By Heritier Bahizi
The Women Deliver 2023 Conference (WD2023) is a monumental event dedicated to gender equality, health, rights, and the well-being of girls and women.
Scheduled from July 17-20, this global gathering will take place both on-site in Kigali and virtually, attracting participants from around the world. One of the highlights of the conference is the Women Deliver Plenary Stage, where influential voices from the feminist community will come together to inspire, foster dialogue, and mobilise action for achieving true equality, rights, and dignity for girls and women everywhere.
In this listicle, we introduce you to the speakers who will grace the Women Deliver Plenary Stage. From renowned leaders to passionate activists, these individuals are at the forefront of driving positive change and shaping a more equitable world.
Maliha Khan - President and CEO of Women Deliver
Dr Maliha Khan brings three decades of leadership and expertise in gender equality. With a commitment to feminist movements, she has championed the empowerment of girls and women in marginalised regions of Pakistan. Dr Khan's experience and passion have driven her to challenge colonial and racist legacies within the international development sector. Her leadership at Women Deliver is guided by the belief that true change requires concerted efforts to challenge existing structures and systems.
Paul Kagame - President of the Republic of Rwanda
President Kagame served as Chair of the African Union (AU) from 2018 to 2019 and chaired the East African Community from 2018 to 2021. He continues to lead AU institutional reforms and serves as the AU Champion for Domestic Health Financing. He also chairs the Commonwealth.
Beginning in 1990, as commander of the forces of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), he led the struggle to liberate Rwanda. The RPF halted the Genocide against the Tutsi in 1994, which claimed over one million victims.
The hallmarks of President Kagame's administration are peace and reconciliation, women's empowerment, promotion of investment and entrepreneurship, and access to information technology, a cause he also champions as co-chair of the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development.
Macky Sall - President of Senegal
President Macky Sall has a rich political background, having served as Prime Minister and President of the Senegalese National Assembly. His commitment to governance and gender equality is evident through his leadership roles and advocacy for women's rights. President Sall's experience and insights contribute significantly to the dialogue on achieving true equality and dignity for girls and women.
Monica Geingos - First Lady of the Republic of Namibia and President of OAFLAD
Monica Geingos is a qualified lawyer and a driving force behind women's empowerment in Namibia. As the First Lady and President of the Organization of African First Ladies, she plays a vital role in advocating for women's rights across the continent. Through her involvement in various boards and organisations, Geingos strives to create positive change and economic opportunities for women in Africa.
Stacey Abrams - Political leader and New York Times bestselling author
Stacey Abrams made history as the first black woman to become a gubernatorial nominee for a major party in the United States. A political leader, entrepreneur, and author, she is dedicated to protecting democracy, advocating for voting rights, and promoting effective public policy. She has also co-founded successful companies, including a financial services firm, an energy and infrastructure consulting firm, and the media company Sage Works Productions, Inc.
Kevin Ali - CEO of Organon
Kevin Ali leads Organon, a global healthcare company focused on addressing unmet health needs faced by women worldwide. With operations in over 60 countries, Organon strives to improve the health and well-being of women everywhere. Under Ali's guidance, the company has emerged as a leader in women's health and continues to develop impactful solutions for pressing health challenges.
Sima Bahous - Executive Director of UN Women
She passionately advocates for women, girls, gender equality, youth empowerment, quality education, poverty alleviation, and inclusive governance. With over 35 years of leadership experience at various levels, Bahous has expertise in advancing women's empowerment and rights, addressing discrimination and violence, and promoting sustainable socio-economic development to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
Shabana Basij Rasikh - The School of Leadership, Afghanistan (SOLA)
Shabana Basij Rasikh led The School of Leadership, Afghanistan (SOLA), the first and only boarding school for Afghan girls. Operating in Kabul from 2016 until the Taliban's return to power in the summer of 2021, Rasikh successfully evacuated her entire school community to Rwanda. SOLA has now reestablished its operations in Rwanda, enabling its students to resume their studies.
Jeannette Bayisenge - Rwanda's Minister of Gender and Family Promotion
Bayisenge has a remarkable background. She served as the Director and Associate Professor of Gender Studies at the University of Rwanda and was also the President of the National Women's Council. Jeannette holds a Ph.D. in Social Work focused on Gender from the University of Gothenburg, a Master's degree in Development Cooperation with a specialisation in Women and Development from Ewha Woman's University in South Korea, and a bachelor's degree in Social Work from the National University of Rwanda.
Aya Chebbi - Founder of Nala Feminist Collective
Nala Feminist Collective is made up of women activists and politicians dedicated to driving transformative change. Chebbi is a prominent Pan-African feminist and diplomat, she gained recognition for her advocacy during Tunisia's Revolution from 2010-2011. She served as the youngest diplomat at the Chairperson's Cabinet and became the first African Union Special Envoy on Youth, holding the position from 2018 to 2021. Chebbi has been honoured with the Gates Campaign Award and featured in Forbes Africa's 50 Most Powerful Women list.
Helen Clark - Former Prime Minister of New Zealand
Clark is a highly respected global leader in sustainable development, gender equality, and international cooperation. She held the position of Prime Minister for three consecutive terms from 1999 to 2008 and subsequently became the UNDP Administrator, making her the first woman to lead the organisation. Clark currently chairs several boards, including the Extractive Industries Transparency Organisation and the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health. She is also a board member of Women Deliver.
Catalina Devandas - Executive Director of Disability Rights Fund (DRF)
Devandas is a human rights lawyer from Costa Rica who has made significant contributions to disability rights. She served as the first United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and held the position of Costa Rican Ambassador to the UN in Geneva.
She has played a key role in advancing the UN Disability Inclusion Strategy and has been instrumental in advocating for the recognition of the Right to a Healthy Environment within the Human Rights Council. As a proud woman living with disability and mother of three daughters, she has a personal connection to her work, being born with Spina Bifida.
Dr Samukeliso Dube - Executive Director of FP2030
Samukeliso leads FP2030's global Support Network for family planning. In this role, she facilitates collaboration, knowledge sharing, resource mobilisation, and progress in the field of family planning. With over 20 years of experience in healthcare, Dr Dube has held senior positions in healthcare delivery and financing. Prior to joining FP2030, she served as the General Manager for Health Policy and Medical Advisory at Afrocentric Health and worked at Royal Philips as the Medical Counsel for Africa and Business Development Manager for Southern Africa.
Maryangel García-Ramos Guadiana - Executive Director of Women Enabled International
With a focus on diversity, gender, and disability in her human rights advocacy work spanning 15 years, she has been a catalyst for change as the leader of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at Tecnológico de Monterrey, championing equality for historically marginalised groups. Additionally, García-Ramos Guadiana was appointed as the President of the Council for Persons with Disabilities for the State of Nuevo León, México, and serves as an Adviser to Gucci's ChimexChange Campaign.
Leymah R. Gbowee - Founder and President of Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa
She's a 2011 Nobel Peace Laureate and Liberian Peace Activist, Gbowee is the Founder and President of Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa. She is a trained social worker and women's rights advocate, and also serves as the Executive Director of the Gender, Law, and Transformative Peace Initiative of the City of New York. Gbowee holds significant roles as a member of the Sustainable Development Goals and the Aurora Prize Selection Committee, as well as serving on various boards worldwide. She holds a M.A. in Conflict Transformation and has been awarded Doctor of Laws honoris causa from multiple universities globally.
Natalia Kanem - Executive Director of UNFPA
She's been utilising her 30 years of experience in science, public health, and philanthropy to champion the rights and choices of women and children. In her role, she oversees the life-saving policy, development, and humanitarian work of UNFPA in over 120 countries, with a focus on advancing reproductive health and rights and upholding human dignity. Kanem's vision is to ensure that every pregnancy is intended, every childbirth is safe, and every young person's potential is fulfilled.
Licypriya Kangujam - Founder of The Child Movement
Kangujam is an 11-year-old Indian Climate Activist, she has been a tireless advocate for protecting and preserving the environment since the age of six.
She gained international attention when she addressed world leaders at the United Nations Climate Conference in 2019, urging immediate climate action. Kangujam is an inspirational young leader and one of the prominent voices in the global fight against climate change. She is also recognised as a Guinness World Record Holder for her efforts in cleaning the planet and serves as the Special Envoy for the President of Timor Leste.
Latanya Mapp Frett - President and CEO of Global Fund for Women
She leads a feminist fund that provides flexible support to more than 5,000 groups across 175 countries. With a commitment to creating lasting change, Frett has dedicated her career to advancing women's rights. She is the author of 'The Everyday Feminist' and previously served as the Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Global. Frett has extensive experience working with organisations such as the United Nations Children's Fund and the United States Agency for International Development.
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka - Former Executive Director of UN Women
She has been a prominent advocate for education, women's empowerment, and gender equality. As the first woman to hold the position of Deputy President of South Africa, she played a crucial role in the fight against Apartheid. Mlambo-Ngcuka continues to contribute to various organisations committed to social change, including the Global Partnership and Fund to End Violence Against Children, the African Leadership Academy, the Mandela Rhodes Foundation, and Women Deliver. She is the Founder of the Umlambo Foundation and has served as the Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations.
Francoise Moudouthe - CEO of African Women's Development Fund (AWDF)
Moudouthe is a passionate pan-African feminist hailing from Cameroon. At AWDF, she advocates for women's rights and fosters sisterhood within African feminist movements. Prior to her role at AWDF, she founded and led Eyala, a bilingual platform amplifying the voices and experiences of African feminists. Based in Accra, Ghana, she is dedicated to supporting African women's organisations in their pursuit of fulfilling all African women's rights.
Chido Cleopatra Mpemba - AUC Chairperson's Youth Envoy at African Union
Mpemba was appointed in November 2021 as the Youngest Diplomat in the African Union Chairperson's Cabinet, adopted by the Heads of State Assembly, as the Special Envoy of Youth in Africa. She is responsible for advocating for 75 per cent of the population in Africa and leading Africa's youth constituency, fronting the voices of over 870 million in Africa.
Mamta Murthi - Vice President for Human Development at The World Bank
In her capacity she oversees several global practices and initiatives aimed at promoting education, health, gender equality, social protection, and jobs. With her background as an economist, Murthi joined the World Bank in 1995 as a young professional and has since held various leadership positions within the organisation.
She has contributed significantly to research on poverty, demography, education, pensions, and skills, gaining recognition for her econometric studies on fertility in India. Murthi holds a Bachelor's Degree in Economics from St. Stephen's College, University of Delhi, and a D.Phil in Economics from the University of Oxford.
Gertrude Oforiwa Fefoame - Global Advocacy Manager of Sightsavers
She's a Ghanaian advocate for disability rights, who currently serves as the Global Advocacy Manager at Sightsavers. She is also the chairperson of the United Nations (UN) Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Gertrude brings extensive experience in leadership and capacity-building for social development. She has played instrumental roles in organisations such as the International Council on Education of People with Visual Impairment in Africa and the World Blind Union's Executive. Fefoame's remarkable contributions have been recognised with multiple awards, including Ghana's Excellence Award-Grand Medal Award.
Stephen Omollo - Chief Executive Officer of Plan International
Omollo draws upon his extensive leadership experience in the humanitarian and development sectors. He previously held positions as the Regional Director for East Africa at World Vision, as well as senior roles at the International Red Cross and Red Crescent and the Commonwealth Secretariat. He is proud to lead Plan International during a critical time when the organization's work in advocating for girls' rights is of paramount importance and firmly believes in amplifying the voices of young people, particularly girls, to tackle the world's most challenging issues.
Emilia Reyes - Program Director of Policies and Budgets for Equality and Sustainable Development at Gender Equity: Citizenship, Work and Family
Reyes also serves as the co-convener of the Women's Working Group on Financing for Development and co-leads the Economic Justice and Rights Action Coalition. Her contributions extend to being a contributing author of the segment 'Gender, Climate Justice, and Transformative Pathways' in the IPCC report 'Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability.' Additionally, she is a member of the Steering Committee of the Civil Society 7. Reyes' work encompasses mobilisation around macro-economic and environmental issues, advocating for gender equality and sustainable development.
Tarcila Rivera Zea - Indigenous activist at CHIRAPAQ Centre for Indigenous Cultures of Peru
She has dedicated over 40 years to advocating for the rights of Indigenous women and youth. Zea is a staunch champion of ancestral cultures, training indigenous leaders, and combating all forms of violence. Her remarkable work has earned recognition from organisations such as UNICEF, the Ford Foundation, and the Sacred Fire Foundation. She has co-founded multiple indigenous networks and served on influential bodies like the United Nations' Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, UN Women's Advisory Group, and UNESCO's International Commission on the Futures of Education.
Mwanahamisi Singano - Senior Global Policy Lead Women's Environment and Development Organization (WEDO)
Also known as 'Mishy', she's a passionate African feminist committed to fighting structural and intersecting inequalities. Over the past 15 years, she has collaborated with women's rights organisations, civil society groups, and governments to develop strategies, build partnerships, manage programmes, and engage communities in promoting and protecting women's rights and environmental well-being. Her focus lies in contributing to a more just, equal, fair, and sustainable world.
Mona Sinha - Global Executive Director at Equality Now
In an organisation dedicated to campaigning for legal and systemic change to address violence and discrimination against women and girls, with 25 years of experience, Sinha has used her corporate background to launch, lead, or advise over 90 mission-aligned organisations, all working towards creating a gender-equal world.
She actively serves as the Board Chair of Women Moving Millions and holds positions on the Executive Council of the Smithsonian American Women's History Museum and the Advisory Board of Gucci CHIME.
Vivania Tatawaqa - Management Collective Member at DIVA for Equality
She's a grassroots feminist mobiliser and organiser from Fiji and the Pacific, Tatawaqa has made significant contributions to initiatives at local, national, regional, and global levels. Starting her organising journey at DIVA for Equality in Fiji, She has become a member of RESURJ, a global alliance of feminists working for sexual and reproductive justice.
Tatawaqa actively engages in issues ranging from universal human rights to social, economic, ecological, and climate justice.
Grace Ineza Umuhoza - Founder of The Green Protector
She's an ecofeminist, pand assionately advocates for the empowerment of women, girls, and frontline communities as a means to achieve global climate justice. She co-founded the Loss and Damage Youth Coalition, a global coalition of youth from over 60 countries urging concrete action on climate-related loss and damage. Her NGO, The Green Protector, focuses on increasing youth participation in environmental protection.
Mabel van Oranje - Founder and Global Champion at Girls Not Brides: The Global Partnership to End Child Marriage
She's a serial entrepreneur for social change working globally to advance equality, freedom, and justice. During the last decade, she played a catalytic role in the creation and growth of Girls Not Brides: The Global Partnership to End Child Marriage, the Girls First Fund, and VOW for Girls. Oranje is a board member of Foundation Chanel, the Lego Foundation, More in Common, the Sigrid Rausing Trust, and VOW for Girls (chair). She is also an advisor to Apolitical Academy Global, Co-Impact's Gender Fund, Global Witness, and the Graca Machel Trust.
Malala Yousafzai - Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and Co-Founder of Malala Fund
Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani activist, UN Messenger of Peace, and the youngest person ever awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. As co-founder of Malala Fund, she is building a world where every girl can learn and lead without fear.
Source: New Times