Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Women Deliver: Using A Different Kind of Currency to Change the World

May 28, 2013

As Women Deliver 2013 begins, I find myself reflecting on the magnitude and importance of this global conference.  A forum bringing together those who believe that the rights and health of women and girls deserve to be international priorities; the potential of this conference is huge.  This is particularly true in a world where deep structural inequalities are often reduced to the most basic economic and political understandings.  Inequalities in women’s health are often viewed through two lenses:  some countries can afford to care for women and girls while others simply cannot.

Funding is certainly a necessary component of addressing failures to protect women and girls. Millions would have a better chance of living long healthy lives if life-saving equipment and medication were more widely available.  However, the causes of many failures run far deeper than the lack of access to essential services and other repercussions that are manifested on the surface.  Rooted in gender stereotypes; failure to understand how women and girls are specifically affected by certain policies; and in some cases, the lack of value placed on the lives of women and girls, these issues are complex and require more than an economic solution.  

How then do we find these other solutions?

What a conference like Women Deliver does, is offer the opportunity for actors at all levels to engage with one another and the issue at hand.  It provides a platform for knowledge sharing and perhaps most importantly, the formation of linkages within and across sectors.  Too often, efforts to make progress on any global issue are fragmented; and moving forward the agenda on women’s health is not immune – with thousands of individuals, organizations and governments; each with their own strengths and weaknesses, working along their individual  path in search of solutions. 

 “Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.”Arundhati Roy , Indian author and political activist

These opportunities for various actors to work together allow the movement to benefit from the resulting synergy.  Solidarity, idea-sharing and collaboration are powerful currencies, and perhaps the only way to shift the status quo bringing about change.  There is a reason that revolutions require the mobilization of thousands of individuals towards a common goal.

As a member of a collective of writers from around the world passionate about women’s rights, I appreciate the potential of learning from and working with my peers.  At Girls Globe, our currency is social media.  We use our blog and other social media platforms as advocacy tools, reaching those just getting familiar with issues surrounding women’s rights and empowerment, while engaging with those already involved in the movement.   We benefit from our collaboration with other organizations and leverage our individual currencies to move forward together. 

As a collective of individuals, organizations and governments gathering together at Women Deliver and mobilizing all of this non-traditional currency, we can work to ensure that when money is thrown at a problem, it is thrown in a direction that will best get at the root causes and lead to lasting changes.   

Are you on Twitter? Be a part of Women Deliver virtually by using #WDlive and #WD2013 to follow and contribute to the discussion.

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