Women Deliver 2016
January 7, 2018
Menstruation Myth One
January 7, 2018

Report Women Deliver 2016 – Sharon Gordon

Report Women Deliver 2016 – Dignity Dreams sent 4 delegates to the 4th Global Women Deliver Conference in Copenhagen from 16 to 19 May 2016. We also had an exhibition stand in the exhibition hall.

Prior to our departure we established 3 reasons for attending the conference, they were:

Our 3 main reasons for going are:

  • To raise funds
  • To establish partnership with Global Aid Agencies to get packs to areas with grinding poverty and/or refugee problems.  Because of the high rate of unemployment in South Africa, our packs will be made in South Africa (Skills are transferred to the women/co-ops)
  • To emphasis the fact that our products are environmentally friendly and that all packs used in SA are imported.

The delegates were:

  • Sandra Millar
  • Maselotsha Mphahlele
  • Shariefa Allie-Nieftagodien
  • Sharon Gordon (Me)

This report covers Plenary Sessions, Concurrent Sessions and general impressions by Sharon.

Day 1 Monday 16 May 2016.

Opening Ceremony and Plenary


  • Barkha Dutt
  • Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mary of Denmark
  • Lars Løkke Rasmussen
  • Annie Lennox
  • Babatunde Osotimehin
  • Gro Harlem Brundtland
  • Katja Iversen
  • Margaret Chan
  • Sakena Yacoobi
  • Yemurai Nyoni
  • Tawakkol Karman
  • Jill Sheffield

The entire conference dealt with SDG’s (Sustainable Development Goals) – there are 17 Global Goals which we hope to reach by 2030.

Dignity Dreams is steeped in SDG 3,4,5,6,10 and 12

The following quotes stood out at the opening ceremony:

‘Women deliver and so much more than babies’

‘Without equality at home, there is no equality at work’

‘Women are the largest untapped resource for sustainable development’

‘My strength is not defined by the weakness of others’ – Yemurai Nyoni, a young man from Zimbabwe, Founder and Advisor of Dot Youth Organisation.

It was after the sessions that most of the networking happened.

I was fortunate enough to meet Yemurai Nyoni and Yvonne Chaka Chaka, just after the ceremony and I believe that we will forge a relationship with her in the future. Both recognised the brand Dignity Dreams from our twitter #WD2016 campaign. Report Women Deliver

Day 2 – Tuesday 17 May 2016.

A Girls’ and Women’s Lens on the SDGs

Many leaders have contributed to the development of the SDGs believing that investments in girls and women ignite change for all of society. The most important voices, however, are girls and women themselves. How do they see the SDGs contributing to their lives and the lives of other women? Do they offer enough? How can we ensure women are equal partners in setting the sustainability agenda for everyone? Leaders in government, civil society, and philanthropy share their ideas and plans for girls, women, and a sustainable world.


  • Geeta Rao Gupta
  • Melinda Gates
  • Helen Clark
  • Julia Gillard
  • Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
  • Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka  – absent
  • Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
  • Vivian Adhiambo Onano
  • Faustina Fynn-Nyame

Melinda Gates announced that the Gates Foundation will inject $80 Million into data collection. It is estimated that data on births and deaths of women does not happen in about 100 out of 193 countries! ‘If you want women to count then you have to count women.’

‘We can’t close the gender gap without closing the Data Gap!’

‘Women and Girls ARE the Agenda!’

It is estimated that women spend about 4.5 hours a day, cooking, cleaning and caring. This work is unrecognised, unpaid and undervalued. There is still gender inequality when it comes to sharing these responsibilities. For more information on her announcement read the following article -http://womendeliver.org/2016/gates-foundation-announces-80-million-investment-fuel-data-collection-women-girls/

Take away from the panel discussion.

As representatives we have to make the case for gender equality to our governments AGAIN, and to continue doing so until things change. It is important to note that men are afraid but there is no need for it as women are ‘not edging men out but adding to the pie’.

It has been proved that by educating women and allowing them to participate in the economy there is always substantial economic growth.

My thoughts are that education is so much more than teaching reading, writing and counting skills – we need to address life skills. It occurred to me that women have such low expectations for themselves that they chose a relationship as the ultimate goal, rather than the contribution they can make to humanity at large. Leadership, education, economics, growth and political participation is required.

Healthy Women, Healthy Economies – Sponsored by Merck KGaA

What is the relationship between women’s health and sustained economic participation? This session will identify policy and program approaches—including multi-stakeholder partnerships—to advancing women’s health for increased economic participation.


  • Concurrents
  • Economic Empowerment


  • Yemurai Nyoni
  • Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
  • Cathy Russell
  • Leslie Mancuso
  • Helen Scott
  • Susan Herbert

It is estimated that if women were included in participating in the economy they would add approximately 23 trillion dollars to the world economy –Mc Kinsey report.

It is important that children from conception to their 5th Birthday are healthy as studies have shown that these first 1000 days will affect health and impact that child’s whole life.

  • Survive
  • Thrive
  • Transform

We need a behaviour change – empowerment is about self sufficiency.

It is also important to recognise that silos exist but if we can get the right people into the room we may be able to share ideas and make significant strides. There is a concern and an acknowledgement that in many areas of concern the relevant data just does not exist. Gender data is important.

My thoughts:

I was told by an Australian Nurse that the school girls had sewn pack in their Home Economics classes – these were then distributed.

I was asked – how to we address the Menstrual Blood taboo when girls are washing the pads in streams –

I think that Dignity Dreams can collect very relevant data concerning young girls regarding a range of things but with particular emphasis on menstrual and sexual health.

Be #Bold4Her on Gender Norms: What Are We So Afraid Of?

Sponsored by FHI360

Moderator Femi Oke will lead a lively discussion exploring the most effective strategies that enable social norms change. Topics will include gender-based violence, adolescent girls’ decision-making power about their sexual and reproductive health, and women’s economic empowerment.

Femi Oke, Host of The Stream, Al Jazeera English 

Lenita Toivakka
, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development, Finland
Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, General Secretary, World YWCA
Dorothy Muroki, Chief of Party for Cross-Border Health Integrated Partnership Project, FHI 360, Kenya
Theo Sowa, CEO, African Women’s Development Fund
Vijayanathan Thusandra, Technical Specialist/Advisor, Child Fund Sri Lanka, 2013 Women Deliver Young Leader


  • Plenaries


  • Femi Oke
  • Lenita Toivakka
  • Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda

Finland despite its Gender Policy still has disparity in equal pay for equal work!

In a discussion about Child marriage it was suggested that ‘Naming is Norming!’ and that we should not call it Child marriage but rather something that equates with the disgust of a man marrying a child.

We have to change the hearts and minds to change the norms that discriminate against the patriarchal system that continues to discriminate against women.

These systems and relationships are always about power and the loss thereof.

The Politics of Pleasure, Sexuality, and Human Rights

Pleasure and sexuality need to be integral elements of the human rights discourse. While young people have become central players in global development, focus remains on harm prevention. Explore how sex-positive learning can empower young people to make healthy decisions about their bodies and lives.

Geetanjali Misra, Executive Director, CREA, India

Shereen El Feki, Author, Sex and the Citadel: Intimate Life in a Changing Arab World, Egypt
Daughtie Ogutu, Executive Director, African Sex Workers Alliance
Arushi Singh, The Pleasure Project, India
Priya Nanda, Group Director of Social and Economic Development, International Center
for Research on Women
Nina Pavlovska, Dance4Life and Member, Dutch SRHR Alliance, The Netherlands


  • Concurrents
  • Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights

This panel was made up of Indian and Muslim women, so it was incredibly interesting to hear the views.

It comes as no surprise that the speakers acknowledged, that sexual pleasure is not spoken about and that the language of pleasure has not developed at the same rate as the same rate as the language of violence!

Because sexual pleasure is so subjective and is so difficult to quantify it is almost impossible to get funding for any type of research or development programs.

When it comes to sexual pleasure for the disabled it would seem that there is a level of disgust that the disabled would want to experience sexual pleasure and are having fun.  There is also an issue as to where disabled persons get information about sex and tailored sexual pleasure.  The landscape has not developed.

The Arab Spring saw a clamping down on sexual expression and many acts have been criminalised. This is in direct contrast to the history of Islam where there was an encyclopaedia of pleasure published in Arabic about 1000 years ago. See imarabic.com

Sex is very seldom about pleasure and almost always about harm reduction and pregnancy. Sex is often used as on a variety of different platforms for political agendas.

The Pleasure Project is an attempt to eroticise safer sex and their representative did a demonstration on how to use a female condom that was exciting and erotic!

There is a concern that very often first sex is neither consensual nor is informed and because of the stigma associated with sex there is very little funding to change it.

It is important for communities to unlearn everything they think they know about pleasure. Report Women Deliver.

Working with Faith Leaders on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights

By acknowledging sexual pleasure and mutual respect as important rights, religious leaders and faith based communities are pushing a progressive SRHR agenda. Learn how their proactive approach is preventing gender-based violence.

Bani Dugal, Principal Representative of the Bahá’í International Community to the United Nations  

Christo Greyling, Director of Faith Partnerships for Development, World Vision
Sharifa Abdulaziz, Gender Advisor, Islamic Relief Worldwide
Shereen el Feki, author, Sex and the Citadel: Intimate Life in a Changing Arab World, Egypt
Patrick Godana, Government and Media Liaison Manager, Sonke Gender Justice


  • Concurrents
  • Maternal Newborn Health

Two South Africans sat on this panel and it was wonderful to hear how developed we are when it comes to attitudes on sexual health.

The church is seeing a move in the ultra conservative congregations when it comes to sexual health and reproductive rights. Those that previously opposed are now becoming champions.

Religious leaders should be reinforcing rather than divide communities.

Material targeting fathers about pregnancy is important. They have to be included in the process but it starts with educating the staff at health care centres. The movement also has to address and advocate for Paternity Leave so the process can be more inclusive.

Sex, religion and politics are always connected and sex is used as a tool of control. If you are not speaking to the religious leaders, you may be speaking in an echo chamber.

Religious leaders should be ensuring that a well rounded sexual and reproductive health should be taught – Facts of Life 101!

Religion and male masculinity is often wrapped up as one unit. Male honour and sex is an issue and stands behind keeping the old hierarchy.

When it comes to the question of masturbation everyone was a bit uneasy and the consensus seemed to be that instead of preaching against it, it may be better just to say nothing!

The discussion on domestic violence was not really addressed other than no policy has not been passed by the United Nations because 3 member states would not sign off. They refused to name the member states.

In my opinion the refusal to name them is an indication of just how far we have to go when it comes to shining light on Domestic Violence.

Breaking the Taboo – Protecting the sexual and reproductive health and menstruation rights of women and girls.

Hosted by Water Aid.

Reference is made to the CLUE survey – we should look into this.

Menstruation affects the self esteem and confidence of women and girls.

It is important to tell the stories, so they can be heard, have pictures and of course the extreme examples.

We need to use private companies with supply chains who employ women. Johnson and Johnson was mentioned.

The representative from SIDA – a Swedish NPO, advises that it has money.

Menstrual health deals with SDG 3 and 5. The South African Aids Trust is busy working on policies and is running trials on menstrual health. They are trying to collect qualitative information.

A lot of work has been done in Kenya with the Gates Foundation collecting data which will come out in a report shortly –

Maselotche got the card of the Kenyan delegate who participated in the data collection.

DAY 3 – 18 May 2016

Investing in Girls and Women: Everybody Wins

Do investments in girls and women pay off for everyone? It’s time to look at the proof. Does hiring more women and paying them equal wages make companies more successful? As more women engage in environmental work, what effect has it had on our planet? When girls go to school, how do we all “win?” And why don’t we ask if investing in men leads to everyone winning? Girls and women merit our investment for the simple fact that they are good for them. These investments are not only the right thing to do, they are also the smart thing to do.


  • Plenaries 


  • Chris Elias
  • Peter Singer
  • Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen
  • Anthony Lake
  • Hans Vestberg
  • Kristian Jensen
  • Mary Robinson
  • Muhammad Yunus
  • Chamki

Confirming the Gates Foundation allegations that there is insufficient data the speakers confirmed that there is little or no data to support the indicators for SDG 5.

Modern data collection using mobile is becoming increasingly relevant. Text to test – use a weekly sexual and reproductive health message to the community as a direct result HIV testing went up.

Vocational and entrepreneurial skills increased baseline learning and improved the economy.

Mobility, broadband and cloud is helping move the needle on gender.

Micro loans, female investment and money policy helps build better business. It is often an investment in the poorest women that makes the greatest impact.

Secondary education through Connect to Learn is making an impact in communities with access.

The question of access remains a challenge – electricity, wifi & data remains a constant challenge. Solar Home Panel systems are becoming more popular. Households are encouraged to use the same amount they would have used on paraffin on these systems. As a direct result health and safety issues have improved.

The 3 barriers to technology are

  • Language
  • Cost
  • Infrastructure

Girls should be encouraged to enter the world of technology, IT and Coding.

The energy program Power Africa is making some in roads.

The message was clear – in today’s market economy it is important to Educate, Agitate and Organise.

‘Be a job creator rather than a job seeker!’

Technologies to Advance Women’s Human Rights

Technology has the power to transform the lives of girls and women. During this session, the audience will not only learn about technologies, but build their own technology toolkit to advance women’s human rights. 


  • Concurrents
  • Economic Empowerment


  • Musimbi Kanyoro – Global Fund for Women.
  • Michaela Leslie-Rule
  • Jovana Djordjevic
  • Fernando H.F. Botelho

Technology is not only important but it becoming increasingly essential. How we use it is also very important!

Technology can be used for:

  • Teaching
  • Reporting
  • Data collection

The session then broke into an Innovation Lab. Each group was given the task to come up with the idea for an APP to resolve a problem in a community. I was with the group dealing with coffee plantations.

Johnson and Johnson has $200 000 available for the development of a mobile APP. If you are interested it will be available from the Global Fund for Women in June 2016.

Trafficking as Systemic Violence Against Girls and Women

Ending human trafficking is an international priority that often gets mired in ineffective interventions, political moralizing, and failures to provide survivors with appropriate services to reclaim their lives. This panel will address challenges facing the anti-trafficking movement and best practices.


  • Concurrents
  • Gender-Based Violence


  • Lindsay Menard-Freeman
  • Natasha Leite de Moura
  • Bandana Pattanaik
  • Angel Chibuye Chelwa

There is a common misconception that trafficking is almost exclusively for the sex trade. Only 22% of human trafficking is used for prostitution, 10% for cheap labour and the balance for slavery.

In Thailand the shrimp boats use purchased slave labour and when they no longer have use the slaves are thrown overboard!

GAATW is an organisation drafting policies for the control and monitoring of Trafficking. Very little success and progress is being made in this area

3 steps in the fight against trafficking.

  • Protection
  • Prevention

DAY 4 – Thursday 19 May 2016

Look to the Future— Part 1: Transformation, Innovation, and Partnership

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”—Einstein. We’re often hearing the same talking points, from the same spokespersons, in the same places, with the same people in the audience. Rather than trying to convert the already converted, we need to convince new audiences that girls and women are the world’s most important resource. It’s time to look at things in a new way; to develop innovative ways of communicating; and to develop partnerships with sectors and organizations we’ve never even considered.


Innovative Strategies for Social Transformation through Communication

Highlights of new strategies to change hearts and minds.

Partnerships: The Expanding Community
Governments, private companies, and NGOs coming together to achieve common goals.


  • Plenaries


  • Wadah Khanfar
  • Pam Scott
  • Raj Kumar
  • Thembisa Fakude
  • Kathy Calvin
  • Naveen Rao
  • Vijayanathan Thusandra

When we look to the future we will need innovation for transformation. Communication will remain important and we will need to do so when we:

  • Feel
  • Think
  • Do

Women will be the agents of their own change and agenda and it can be fast tracked with data and the logistics of data. Only with this data can we get to key influencers.

If we want to help our communities they have to have access to information. When disseminating this information one must be mindful of social impediments.

The future is empathy!


The cry is ‘Nothing about us – without us!’

Partnerships is an essential part of the development of women and getting the needle on SDG’s to move, but for too long others have made the decisions on what is important and what needs to be prioritised.

Finding the relevant partner is always a challenge but if you can equate the dollar being given to how much it will make, it’s a lot easier. Everybody wants something in return and it is naive to think otherwise.

Philanthropy is all about giving and receiving and then giving. One of the speakers doesn’t see it as giving to Africa, he suggests that the Global North has extracted so much from Africa that it is time to return some of it.

Part of addressing the gender imbalance is to finally address the core issues of a patriarchal society.

We all believe that philanthropy is about high value individuals giving when in truth most of the good stuff comes from everyday individuals. This is what creates systematic change.

Innovative incubators are important to decide who is going to do what differently?

Innovative Means to Collect and Use Data

Data is essential to understanding problems and monitoring progress. Hear from experts about new, creative methods of data collection to help governments and NGOs provide the necessary aid to hygiene, reproductive health, and protection of adolescent girls.


  • Concurrents
  • Data, Accountability, Advocacy


  • Angel Chibuye Chelwa
  • Linnea Zimmerman
  • Omar J. Robles
  • Laura Malajovich
  • Theresia Moyo
  • Silvia Huaynoca

Gates Foundation announced that it was putting $80 million into the collection of data in the coming year. It is increasingly important to ensure that the correct data is collected and is shared in a meaningful way.

Smart phones are able to let us collect smart data. Data is collected using ODK (open data kit). With smart phones date, time, GPS, bar code, ways of paying and mobile money make data relevant. This information must be used to inform policy.

Education and learning is becoming available to those previously excluded. Online learning will become more relevant and with the correct data we will be able to ensure that it remains relevant and targeted to the correct demographic.

My thoughts:

  • Dignity dreams and a call centre with menstrual health information
  • Approach Vodacom for data sponsorship, smart phones etc to collect relevant data
  • Need an online platform for education 

Be the Change You Want to See

“Be The Change,” a phrase attributed to Gandhi, and never more important. The conference closes with reflections from famous change makers who envision a better future for girls and women. This is the perfect time to celebrate progress, renew your commitments, and dream bigger.


  • Plenaries


  • Kate Gilmore
  • Mogens Lykketoft
  • David Monteith
  • Francoise Girard
  • Achieng Masiga
  • Jessica Biel
  • Taona Nana Kuo
  • Francis Armah
  • Pooja Taparia
  • Abelone Melese
  • Tim Evans
  • Elizabeth Okumu
  • Pia Cayetano
  • Yvonne Chaka Chaka
  • Katja Iversen

The final session was more entertainment that education, with the message that our wish is for a world in which we no longer need to call for gender equality.

‘You don’t have to like me to respect my rights!’


Each delegate was asked to do 10 Follow Up Actions:


Take action to get girls’ and women’s health, rights, and wellbeing solidly placed in national SDGs (and other) plans. Join with colleagues and other organizations in your country.


If you haven’t already, sign on yourself or your organization at deliverforgood.org—and get others to do so as well.


Follow up with new connections and potential partners after the conference to explore synergies and collaboration.


Work with new people from different issues and different sectors to make even more change happen for girls and women everywhere.


Set up a briefing session with colleagues. Give people handouts that you collected. Screen key moments from the conference through the virtual conference archive at womendeliver.org/WDLive. Discuss how to put inspiration into action.


Utilize the 300+ solutions presented here at the conference via our Solutions Panorama publication, available on womendevlier.org by September, the first anniversary of the SDGs.


Share key facts and lessons learned about girls’ and women’s health, rights, and wellbeing on your website, in your newsletter, in your conversations, and via your social network.


Give interviews, write an op-ed, or provide an open letter to your local media outlets with examples of how to invest in girls and women so everybody wins.


Keep up to date on the issues you heard about at the conference via Women Deliver’s monthly newsletter. Subscribe at bit.ly/WDmail.


Within a month, we will send you a post-conference survey. Take a few minutes to fill it out and give feedback so we can make the next Women Deliver conference even better!

If you would like any further information, interviews or more please do not hesitate to contact me sharon@dignitydreams.com

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