“Women Deliver 2023 was nothing short of transformative” – Rev. Norah Naitore

Photo: Author of article, Rev. Naitore from Kenya.

 In July 2023, I had the incredible opportunity to attend the Women Deliver 2023 Conference in Kigali, Rwanda. The conference theme, “Solidarity, Spaces, and Solutions,” immediately set the tone for what turned out to be a transformative experience. The conference had five clear objectives, and they were not just words on paper:

  1. Catalyze Collective Action to Advance Gender Equality: It was more than a buzzword; it was about bringing together a diverse group of change-makers, each with unique experiences and insights, to drive collective action
  2. Hold Leaders Accountable: We held leaders accountable for their commitments to gender equity, urging them to turn words into concrete steps.
  3. Empower the Feminist Movement: The strength and resilience of the feminist movement were celebrated, and we were
    empowered with new strategies to keep pushing forward.
  4. Reframe Who Leads conversations and in particular decision making. The conference challenged traditional notions of leadership and the exclusion of vulnerable groups from these spaces, emphasizing the importance of diverse voices in decision-making.
  5. Create Space: It was indeed a vibrant, inclusive space where voices that often go unheard found their stage. As a member of the faith community, I was empowered and encouraged that I could wear my collar in such a space which previously looked at the faith community suspiciously
Photo: Rev. Naitore (extreme right) with young women, faith leaders and programme staff from the YW4A Initiative, at the 2023 Women Deliver Conference.

One of the standout moments for me was the Pre-Conference on preventing and responding to violence against women, organized by the World Health Organization and UN Women. This event highlighted commitments, evidence, tools, and practical experiences that could be applied to inspire global and local actions against violence targeting women. It was an eye-opening session, reminding us that change is possible, even in the face of such a daunting challenge.

Another memorable experience was a side event by Episcopal Relief & Development, World Vision, and Islamic Relief, focusing on advancing Gender Equity Social Inclusion (GESI) through religious engagement. They shared insights from faith-based programmes that promote GESI globally, discussing approaches, tools, and moments of challenge. It was a powerful reminder that faith can be a force for positive change.

The plenary session on “The State of Gender Equality in the Africa Region” was equally enlightening. It brought together leaders from various fields to discuss gender equality and parity in Africa, with a specific emphasis on the Maputo Protocol. This session celebrated achievements, acknowledged challenges, and fostered discussions to drive positive change in the region.

We also had the privilege of hosting a side event as Faith to Action Network, where I sat in a panel discussion on Gender Assessment Methodology. It was a moment of pride, as this methodology champion’s transformative organizational change that supports gender equality within faith organizations. I was able to share the work that I have done in my community and my organisation.

My experience at the Women Deliver Conference was nothing short of life-changing. I left the event feeling changed in how I think and look at the gender equality space. It was an opportunity to connect with influential leaders working tirelessly to end gender inequality. The solidarity, space, and solution-oriented discussions enriched me, reminding me that real change is possible when we come together.