Delegates from 168 countries converge in Denmark for women conference

Tuesday May 17 2016

Crown princess Mary of Denmark participates in the fourth Women Deliver Conference, the world's largest global conference on the health, rights, and well-being of girls, in Copenhagen on May 17, 2016.

Crown princess Mary of Denmark participates in the fourth Women Deliver Conference, the world's largest global conference on the health, rights, and well-being of girls, in Copenhagen on May 17, 2016. AFP PHOTO  

By EUNICE KILONZO
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Nearly 5,000 people, including Kenyan representatives, are meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark, to discuss ways to improve the health and well-being of girls and women.

The four-day convention, the fourth Women Deliver Conference, has drawn participants from 168 countries, and was officially opened on Tuesday by Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mary of Denmark, Patron of the Women Deliver 2016 Conference.

She said: “The evidence is sound – when we invest in girls and women, society as a whole benefits.”

Speaking at the event, Danish Prime Minister Løkke Rasmussen said tackling the well-being of girls and women is a “joint responsibility.”

She added: “The fight for equal gender opportunities is not just a women’s fight. It is a fight for all of us – women and men. It is a fight for a better and more prosperous world.”

The conference also saw the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announce a Sh8 billion support to “close the gender gaps” and accelerate progress for women and girls globally.

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This will include knowing how much time women and girls spend on unpaid work around the world, and what implications this has on their life chances and choices, such as completing education, getting jobs or starting businesses.

The exact details of how the program will be rolled out or how Kenya will directly benefit from it is yet to be known.

In her keynote speech at the conference, Melinda Gates, co-chairman of the foundation said the money, spread out in the next three years, are necessary to know the “size and nature of social or economic problems, and bring clarity around who is falling through the cracks.”

“We simply don’t know enough about the barriers holding women and girls back, nor do we have sufficient information to track progress against the promises made to women and girls. We are committed to changing that by investing in better data, policies and accountability,” she said.

The money will also be used to improve the accuracy and reliability of data collection, equip decision-makers with more timely and clearer evidence about programmes and interventions as well as support civil society in holding leaders to account.

The attendees will also discuss the latest trends, innovations and research in the global health sector.