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I know that listening can be hard. It can push us out of our comfort zone, challenge our beliefs, and make us see a world we’d rather pretend is not there.

But listening is also good. It can reveal what we are up against, sharpen our arguments, grow new allies, and provide us a solid foundation for moving forward.

Listening is the first step in dialogue, the prerequisite for creating understanding between different people and different groups – and for collaboration that can make the world a better place.

Women Deliver and I have spent a good deal of 2017 listening to hundreds of new and familiar voices. From world leaders and influencers; to researchers and thinkers; to young people and former young people; to people from various backgrounds, issues and sectors; civil society, private sector, and think tanks. And not least to girls and women in communities across the globe.

We’ve done it to inform our work, to make us better, to make sure our advocacy and activities stay sharp and hit the mark.

We’ve asked some very simple – yet big – questions: What does the world look like for girls and women right now? What are the trends, challenges, and opportunities in our field? What needs to be done? And what do we – Women Deliver – need to focus on, both in our work, and at the upcoming Women Deliver 2019 Conference? 

There has been laughter, tears, and tongue biting. It’s been humbling, hard, and at times horrifying. But it's also been enlightening.

Words like power, change, hope, agency, social norms, backlash, conservatism, patriarchy, (in)equality, mobilization, and momentum kept coming up – transcending geographical borders, sectors, and class.

We’ve gained knowledge and insights that are essential as Women Deliver continues to grow – in size, influence, and impact. We’ll carry these lessons learned as we double the Young Leaders program, expand the Deliver for Good campaign, and prepare for the Women Deliver 2019 Conference in Vancouver – and beyond.

The world changed in 2017 – in good ways and in bad. While conservative forces are attacking women’s rights, including a woman’s right to decide what to do with her own body and fertility, we also see women’s voices rising as never before. We see old patriarchic bastions falling.

Women Deliver is also changing – reaching more and new audiences; being invited into more and new spaces; and becoming sharper and more impactful. And as we grow as a leading global advocate for gender equality and the health, rights, and wellbeing of girls and women, we will always stay true to our roots in maternal, sexual, and reproductive health and rights.

We will continue to change and to listen in 2018, continue to build bridges, continue to partner with new and old friends, and continue to be even more rigorous as we strive for results and impact. Only then can we continue to be a leading advocate, be at the top of our game, and deliver for – and with – the girls and women that so inspire us.

5 things you can do to stand with girls and women – and Women Deliver

  1. Be the change. Take an introspective look at your own life and see how you can step up for girls and women, both professionally and personally. 
  2. Speak out against injustice, and speak up for progress in your communities.
  3. Sign the commitment to girls and women, and join the Deliver for Good campaign. And rally others to join as well.
  4. Support Women Deliver and other of the many, many wonderful organizations across the world working to defend the health and rights of girls and women. 
  5. And of course... Listen!
Best Wishes and Happy New Year, 

Katja Iversen,
President/CEO, Women Deliver
Copyright © 2017 Women Deliver, All rights reserved.

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