Women Deliver Opening Plenary: “Leadership is what this meeting is all about”

Sarah Lindsay

Senior Technical Officer

With the plenary hall at Kuala Lumpur Convention Center overflowing, Women Deliver president Jill Sheffield opened the third global advocacy conference along with a group of esteemed academics and politicians including Malaysia’s Prime Minister.

“Leadership is what this meeting is all about,” Sheffield said. “Leadership to make changes. We need to stay ahead of the curve to move forward and the world is changing quickly. Leaders grab change and use it to better the world, to change the landscape for girls and women.”

Malaysia’s progress in maternal health and gender equality, attributed to strong political leadership, was a theme at the opening plenary.  Because of the country’s leaders’ political will, “…strong investments [were] made in lowering maternal mortality. Malaysia has seen a great decline in maternal and child birth related deaths,” Dr Raj Abdul Karim, Women Deliver's Asia Regional Director, said.

Najib Razak, Prime Minster of Malaysia, explained that investing in women and girls was an easy decision. “We know women lead at every level of society, from our families to our schools, and from our civil society to our governments,” he told the attendees including Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway, Crown Princess Mary of Denmark, and multiple first ladies from around the world.

While celebrating Malaysia’s progress, it was acknowledged that the world has a long way to go to guarantee that women and girls are healthy and have the same opportunities as men. The Women Deliver 2013 conference hopes to inspire innovative leadership in all sectors to make the investments needed for women and girls.