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Seven questions on Women Deliver 2023

Advocate Pierrette Kengela, from our Ado Avance Ensemble programme, reflects on this momentous event.

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Tags: Ado Avance Ensemble, reflection, Women Deliver

We’re thrilled to share the highlights of our participation in the Women Deliver 2023 conference held in Kigali. This global gathering united over 6,300 passionate activists, policymakers, and advocates from 170 countries, all driven by the shared mission of gender equity and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) Advocate Pierrette Kengela, from our Ado Avance Ensemble programme, reflects on this momentous event.  

Pierrette Kengela at Women Deliver 2023

1. What made you most excited about Women Deliver? 

What truly stirred my excitement was the opportunity to engage and connect with the emerging wave of young advocates from across the globe. Their boundless passion and unwavering dedication to propelling gender equity and championing sexual and reproductive health and rights left me inspired. My primary goal was to gain insights, share experiences, and mostly forge partnerships that would strengthen our collective impact in these crucial areas in West and Central Africa. 

2. How has Women Deliver changed over the years? 

I’ve observed its evolution over the years. The conference has grown in terms of both scale and influence, and was hosted in Africa, which I view as a positive development. The increased global recognition and full participation of the global South reflect the growing urgency of the issues it addresses. However, with growth comes the need to ensure that the conference maintains its focus on inclusivity and remains a platform for genuine dialogue and action. 

3. What is your take on the criticisms the conference received? 

Criticism is an essential part of any event of this magnitude. It’s crucial to acknowledge the concerns raised and engage in constructive dialogue. In the case of Women Deliver 2023, the presence of individuals with opposing views on women’s rights was a subject of controversy. I believe it’s important to balance inclusivity with the need to maintain the integrity of the conference as a safe space for all participants. The response of the organisers, recognising the criticism and emphasising the importance of inclusivity in dialogue, strikes a delicate but necessary balance. 

4. What were specific topics, moments you looked out for the Ado Avance Ensemble programme? 

Within the Ado Avance Ensemble programme, we were particularly interested in topics related to sexual and reproductive health and rights for young people in West and Central Africa.  

These topics align closely with our mission, and we sought out sessions that addressed youth empowerment, education, access to safe abortion and family planning services. We were also keen on participating in discussions centered around strategies to advance the West and Central Africa Commitment (WCA) for educated, healthy and thriving adolescents and young people, as it aligns with our commitment to creating safe environments where young people can access comprehensive SRHR education and services. 

5. What was the most inspiring event you attended? 

The most inspiring event for me at Women Deliver 2023 was the commemoration of the 20th Anniversary of the Maputo Protocol. This milestone celebrated the progress made in prioritising SRHR for women and girls in Africa and reinforced the need for comprehensive and inclusive strategies. It was a powerful reminder of the transformative impact that dedicated advocacy and international collaboration can achieve. 

 6. Have you made any suggestions at any sessions? 

During various sessions, we did share suggestions related to bolstering youth engagement and strengthening comprehensive sexual education in the region such as:  

  • Youth engagement: Prioritising youth-driven approaches involves active participation of young people in program design, implementation, and evaluation, leveraging their insights and experiences. 
  • Comprehensive curriculum: We support comprehensive sexuality education curricula covering not only biology but also topics like consent, healthy relationships, gender equality, and reproductive rights, promoting responsible behaviour and attitudes. 

7. What are your 3 key takeaways for the Ado Avance Ensemble? 

  1. Empowered young people: Our ongoing commitment centers on empowered  young people in West and Central Africa by ensuring their access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health education and services. 
  2. Advocating for accountability: It is of utmost importance that we hold governments accountable for their gender equality commitments and maintain transparency in tracking progress.  
  3. Intersectionality and inclusivity: To guide our future actions, we must recognize and address intersectional challenges faced by women and young people, ensuring their voices are integral to decision-making processes.  


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