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5 ways partnerships drive impact for girls and women


Katja Iversen

CEO/President, Women Deliver

When taking on the major social issues of our time, we can’t go it alone. One key ingredient for big impact is partnerships.

Here are my top 5 tips for how to partner more, and well, to move the needle on gender equality and the health and rights of girls and women around the world. 

1. Work with your “competitors”

Because of limited resources, those that work on similar issues can feel like competitors. But often our immediate goals might be different – some prioritize visibility, others fundraising or political contacts. Rather than look at like-minded organizations as competitors, approach these organizations as potential allies. Ultimately, we’re all working towards the same end goal, let’s do it together.

2. Break down the silos

Girls and women don’t see themselves as individual body parts or a bunch of different issues, and neither should we. Women Deliver’s “Deliver for Good” campaign is a model for addressing girls and women holistically, as whole girls and whole women. The campaign facilitates collaboration between diverse partners including climate change advocates, education champions, contraception proponents, land rights leaders, and more. Because when we invest in girls’ and women’s whole health, rights, and wellbeing, there’s a ripple effect across sectors that benefits everyone.

3. Think outside the box

Unusual partners can open new doors to change. For example, Women Deliver recently partnered with the Canadian Audit and Accountability Foundation to develop guidance on tracking government progress in reaching the Sustainable Development Goals, with a specific focus on gender equality. Auditors and women’s rights advocates may seem like an odd couple, but it’s precisely our differing insights and skills that make our partnership impactful. Now, national audit authorities and civil society members around the world can use these guidelines to make sure governments meet their stated commitments to girls and women.  

4. Include the private sector

The private sector has a huge role to play in improving the lives of girls and women. From hiring more women, including for leadership positions, to providing equal pay for equal work, to ending stereotyping in marketing – business leaders can create a more gender equal world, enhance women’s economic participation and benefit their bottom line. 

5. Don’t forget about young people

Partnering with young people is one of the best investments you can make to maximize impact.  For programs and policies to reflect the needs of the largest generation of young people ever, they actually need to be involved from start to finish in decision-making and implementation. Whether through engaging young people on advisory committees, governance boards or leadership roles, their partnership is vital if we want programs and policies that will be effective and work for young people. 

I hope these tips will serve as inspiration for how we can all work with new and old partners to move the needle for girls and women. When we focus on building high-impact partnerships, we can change the world – together.

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