The Power Of Networks: Women Deliver 2019 - Equality Now

The Power Of Networks: Women Deliver 2019

WD2019 brought together over 8,000 world leaders, influencers, advocates, academics, activists, and journalists committed to a more gender equal world. The energy and determination was infectious, and we left Vancouver with renewed hope for a gender equal world by 2030.

Solidifying the global movement against FGM

On the 2nd June 2019, NGOs, grassroots and survivor-led organizations from around the world came together at the Women Deliver 2019 conference around a common global goal: to end FGM/C by 2030 and to support survivors of the practice.

Equality Now, along with Amref Health Africa, COVAW, End FGM Canada Network, End FGM European Network, Orchid Project, Sahiyo, The Girl Generation, There Is No Limit Foundation, The Inter-African Committee on Traditional Practices, Tostan and the US End FGM/C Network who convened this pre-conference event remain committed to working collaboratively to achieve the common goal.

In the run up to the pre-conference event a survey of almost 200 stakeholders including activists, leaders, FGM/C survivors, researchers and policymakers from over 38 countries identified linking law and policy with community change as the key priority area: something Equality Now has been doing and committed to continue.

The event culminated with five global calls to action:

  1. Change from within - challenging social and gender norms
  2. Research - strengthening the evidence base
  3. Finding well-being - better support and services for survivors
  4. Emerging trends in FGM/C - e.g. medicalization, lower ages of cutting
  5. Increasing resources to achieve the global goal

What remains clear is that to put an end to the harmful practice of FGM/C by 2030 (in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)), we must work in partnership with communities, governments, donors, multilateral bodies around the world.  

We must also address the gender inequality that perpetuates this practice by challenging social and gender norms and addressing the root causes of gender inequality at the community level, including gender stereotypes and unequal power relations.

‘The clitoris should not be harmed’

Her Excellency Sika Bella Kabore, the First Lady of Burkina Faso attended our side event on 4 June, Ending FGM by 2030: It's a global issue’. Her Excellency added her voice to the discussion that brought together, all the regional networks working to end FGM across the globe. She affirmed her opposition to the practice, stating ‘the clitoris is an organ, like any other part of your body, and should not be harmed’.

Burkina Faso is considered a champion in efforts to end FGM and given this key role, anti-FGM activists including Aissata Camara, co-founder of There Is No Limit Foundation and Sarian Kamara founder of Keep the Drums Lose the Knife, made a concerted call to the First Lady during the panel to continue providing this leadership beyond the African continent ensuring that all governments meet their commitment to ending FGM by 2030.

Addressing online sexual exploitation through film

Equality Now also screened a clip from the upcoming film Saving Zoe, starring Laura and Vanessa Marano, which touches on the themes of sexual exploitation and online sex trafficking.

SAVING ZOË is a powerful and thought provoking film that explores the dark realities of sex trafficking and sexual exploitation, including how the internet provides a ready marketplace for girls’ bodies. The film shows yet another version of the pervasiveness of sexual exploitation and violence in a way that is current and audiences at the film festival noted were relatable for a teen audience.

We met and were inspired by thousands of activists and look forward to working with them in the future. We left Women Deliver inspired by the women’s rights movement, and even more determined to continue our work to build a just world for women and girls.

One to watch:

Watch Natasha Mwansa, a young Zambian activist own the stage alongside four world leaders at the opening Plenary.