What would a gender-equal world look like? Our social impact director Amaia Arranz got a glimpse of that during the Women Deliver Conference in Vancouver.
Women WHAT conference? Don’t worry, before we go any further, we’ll catch you up what Women Deliver (WD) is. Brace yourself (and your wallet), because once you know about it you’ll be itching to go!
Women Deliver is the world's biggest conference on gender equality and the health, rights, and well-being of girls and women.
Every three years the conference brings together world leaders, activists and advocates to share solutions, build coalitions, drive progress - and achieve results. Here are two big ways the conference delivered this year:
-) Canada’s Prime Minister Trudeau announced that the Government of Canada will raise its funding to CAD$1.4 billion annually to support women and girls’ health around the world. That includes an additional CAD$300 million a year dedicated to sexual and reproductive health rights, including access to safe abortion.
-) The President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, committed to ending female genital mutilation or cutting by 2022.
Amaia came back energized and empowered through connecting with amazing, strong, bold, unapologetic people fighting for a gender-equal world. We asked her to share some of the conversations, her insights and reflections with us:
Amaia, what did you hope to achieve from going (for Ruby Cup)?
“I saw WD as a chance to keep Ruby Cup up to date on the gender equality movement and especially on innovation and femtech for women's health. As potential outcomes, I saw a chance to improve practices (learn more about how to carry out social impact projects more effectively), and of course, it is a great place to network and maybe find both new partners and come up with new partnership models."
The conference didn’t only meet her expectations but exceeded them. Keep reading to understand why.
Your favourite moment(s)/takeaway(s)?
“So many! Broadly speaking, it was great to meet so many menstrual health stakeholders. To name a few: Bloody Good Period, Clue, Afripads, Be Girl. It was fantastic to finally meet them in person. I had only spoken to some of them via email or met very briefly on other occasions.”
“The Case for Her did a fantastic job of gathering so many of us at the same stand and organising really interesting talks there. It was like a mini home from home! (with a constant supply of inspiring chats and organic coffee).”
Amaia was at the booth of The Case For Her, where together with the African Coalition for Menstrual Health Management she spent the morning sharing our experiences and learnings from donating menstrual cups in the Global South for almost 7 years.
One thing we’re extremely proud of is the 80% adoption rate our donation programmes achieve. You can read more about that in our annual impact reports.
The first day of the conference ended with a personal highlight: Amaia finally met Maria Carmen Punzi in person. Maria had interviewed Amaia back in 2017 for her master thesis research on how businesses are transforming menstruation from stigma to opportunity, and for the conference, she was invited as one of the speakers to The Case For Her booth! It’s beautiful to see things like this come together.
Did you learn anything new about menstrual health?
“I attended a brunch/panel discussion on women-centred design that really made me reflect on the potential of focusing on users and their needs and desires. It might seem obvious but it is easy to end up focusing on your own experience and aspirations instead.”
Also, Madeleine Shaw from Lunapads gave a fantastic presentation on gender-inclusive menstruation, which made it more clear than ever: it’s time to move away from the binary!
WD does an incredibly good job at creating a space that encourages diverse people with diverse expertise to come together and to learn from each other. Full-on networking, but the type that leaves you energized instead of exhausted.
With that in mind, Amaia went to the conference with a toolkit in her pocket. The new toolkit we’ve recently developed, together with Womena for menstrual health educators in the Global South.
Amaia brought a few copies to the conference to share with menstrual health stakeholders, researchers and experts to get valuable feedback and input from them.
Share a speaker(s)/conversation/presentation that inspired you and why:
“There were TONS of inspiring speakers and I missed so many because there was so much going on. Within the menstrual health community, I loved Chris Bobel, she is just fabulous, someone called her the “fairy godmother of menstrual health” and that is so accurate! I would add activist and feisty to the moniker.”
“Menstrual literacy is the best remedy for body shame.”
- Chris Bobel
If you’re not familiar with Chris Bobel, she is the author of “The managed body - Developing girls and menstrual health in the Global South”, “New blood - Third wave feminism and the politics of menstruation” and “The paradox of natural mothering”. We urge you to check out these books or if you prefer, listen to her discuss her latest book in “The Heavy Flow Podcast”.
Sophia Grinvalds from Afripads held a presentation that also got everyone’s attention. “You can do business and you can do good simultaneously!” Now that, of course, was right up our alley and is one of the reasons we both partner with Femme International.
This NGO conducts reproductive health workshops in Nairobi and Tanzania, where they hand out Afripads and Ruby Cups to young women so they have a choice to find the period product that works best for them.
Moving away from menstrual health for a bit, Amaia was fascinated with Polly Rodriguez from Unbound. “I found her beyond inspiring, she was truly mesmerising. I still think of her talk and how bold and courageous she is. I have become somewhat obsessed! We need to recognise (and dismantle!) the stigma that surrounds female pleasure and sexuality when it is not under the male gaze.”
Then there was of course, this unforgettable, very powerful moment that even all of us in the office, thousands of km away, got extremely excited about. We celebrated and rewatched the video of Tasha Wang Mwansa standing up for women everywhere.
Tasha owned the stage with her key messages and then received a standing ovation by Justin Trudeau and the audience. Trust us, if there’s one video you’re going to watch today, let it be this one:
Amaia, are you excited about the next conference? What will happen in between those three years until the next conference happens?
“VERY! Apparently, Capetown and Sydney are contenders for hosting! I hope that, as a community for gender equality, we will have achieved much more by then and that we will be able to identify and address new challenges. Seeing the beginning of the end of period poverty would be wonderful but I am not sure we will be there by 2022. Who knows?”
Everyone left the conference with a sense of standing at the brink of something big. A feeling of unitedness and empowerment. A feeling as if everyone has had enough of sole goodwill and words. NOW it’s time to act and we’re more than ready. To put it in Tasha’s words:
“There is no way you can be making decisions for us and not include us, because then all you do is just let us be beneficiaries. That’s not happening anymore!”