Women Deliver Conference 2023: Advancing Gender Equality and Menstrual Justice
The 2023 Women Deliver Conference, with its theme “Spaces, Solidarity and Solutions,” was a pivotal event for leaders and organizations worldwide. Taking place from July 17-20 in Kigali, Rwanda, this conference provided a platform for discussing critical issues related to gender equality, reproductive health and menstrual justice. Days for Girls (DfG) representatives – including DfG CEO, Tiffany Larson; Global Advocacy Director, Diana Nelson; Program Coordinator, Naana Abena Afeni; and Kenya Country Manager, Buya Mukonzo – attended and participated in the event, even helping to curate the session on gender equality and menstrual justice.
Empowering Discussions on Gender Equality and Menstrual Justice
One of the conference's sessions focused on advancing gender equality through local voices, feminist approaches and the integration of sexual reproductive health and rights. This session highlighted the importance of breaking barriers, addressing challenges and creating shared goals to achieve concrete advancements in gender equality.
A Booth for Engagement
Days for Girls set up a booth at the conference, inviting attendees to engage and learn more about our work. It was an excellent opportunity to connect with other organizations, share about our mission and gain insights into others’ efforts to promote menstrual health and gender equality.
Inclusive Language: Key to Effective Communication
Throughout the conference, a recurring theme was the importance of clear and inclusive communication. To make progress in gender equality and menstrual health, it is vital to keep language simple and understandable. This approach ensures that the message reaches a broader audience and does not alienate those outside the development sphere.
Empowering Local Voices
The conference emphasized the significance of listening to local voices and effectively communicating their messages. By using comprehensive language, especially in sexual reproductive health and rights (SRHR) discussions, organizers avoided fragmenting women into single issues but rather took a holistic view of women and their SRHR needs.
Framing Menstrual Health with a Justice Approach
The concept of menstrual justice took center stage when discussing menstrual health. The term menstrual justice is a more inclusive and encompassing term than menstrual equality or equity. The conference advocated that SRHR should start with menstrual health and approach it from a menstrual justice perspective, emphasizing that flexibility in addressing these needs is crucial. The “what” remains consistent, but the “how” and “when” should adapt to individual contexts. For instance, Esther Wambui Kimani, a leader at the Conference, articulated one facet of menstrual justice when she stated that, “Menstruation is personal and political. Political because the government decides what products, what education and when it’s received.”
Opportunities for Data Collection and Research
The conference encouraged data collection on the household impact of menstrual health, a currently underexplored area. By gathering such data, organizations are able to advocate for comprehensive support.
Calls to Action and Future Considerations
The conference concluded with compelling calls to action, including doing more for women workers in the health sector and increasing efforts for indigenous women and girls and those with disabilities. Speaking specifically of the holistic importance of SRHR in the workplace, one conference attendant commented that these measures are “about the productivity of each employee, not about male versus female.” Given the encompassing nature of the issue, it is vital to bridge traditional and non-traditional approaches to ensure that organizations reach more women.
As Days for Girls and other organizations participated in the 2023 Women Deliver Conference, there was a shared commitment to create meaningful change in global gender equality and menstrual health norms. The conference provided not only insights but also a platform for fostering collaboration, sparking innovation and securing the support needed to empower women and girls worldwide.
In attending this conference, Days for Girls gained knowledge, expanded our network, and showcased the Period Positive Workplace initiative. These endeavors strengthened our position as advocates for menstrual health and gender equality, ensuring that women and girls receive the dignified change they deserve.