Attending Women Deliver Conference as a Young Leader – Umair Mushtaq

The Women Delivers (WD) 4th Global Conference took place in Copenhagen, Denmark from the 16-19 May 2016. The conference this year focused particularly on health, covering areas such as maternal, sexual, and reproductive health and rights – and focus on gender equality, education, environment, and economic empowerment and how Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) could be implemented.

The 2016 Conference brought together world leaders, advocates, policymakers, journalists, young people, researchers, and leaders of corporate companies and civil society to showcase what it means and how it works when girls and women become the focus of development efforts.

Last year WD announced three years Young Leaders Fellowship program and selected youth advocates working for the betterment of Women and Girls. I attended the conference and represented Pakistan as young leader along with 199 selected young leaders across the world.

My journey to the conference had very interesting and funny ups and downs. I’d like to share one very first incident happened after applying for the visa. I applied 3 months prior to the conference and Embassy granted visa on weekend Saturday 14th May 2016, six hours before my flight to Copenhagen. Strange things happens, but the best part was I was able to catch my flight.

The journey with Women Deliver as Young Leader was amazing. I started from the e-course to youth pre-conference, workshops and then to the global conference in Copenhagen. This conference allowed me to meet amazing young leaders, advocates and policy makers to share ground realities we are facing here in Pakistan. It was also an amazing opportunity to network with other young people, know what they are doing in their respective countries, what difficulties they are facing and discussing the solutions to keep up the good work. Every single moment in the conference was important due to its program which invited world leaders to talk about the challenges and their solutions. After attending the conference and talks I realized that we are hundreds of years behind from the world which is very much tolerant and talks about the women empowerment, social injustice, gender equality, sexual and reproductive health and rights and then thrive to implement the solutions. But here we have taboos which does not allow us to go beyond the limits and talk about core issues openly. We collectively or individually need to work to educate and empower girls and women, increase their participation in decision making and peace building processes, and eliminate gender-based discrimination and violence. This conference gave me an understating that we have a long but not impossible way to better future.

It is not that much hard to break the taboos here in Pakistan but it needs consistency and real work to rise up against all odds. And I believe that using education as a tool to empower women and girls to fight for their rights is the possible way to overcome issues they are facing along with implementation of laws against such crimes.

They said, you will be in love with Europe, right. I loved the time spent with new and old friends, coworkers, conference alumni and Danish local people who met while roaming on the Denmark streets. I liked the simple moments, such as crossing the roads when every single vehicle stops at zebra crossing. This shows the ultimate respect to human being.

Last but not least, I’d like to thank all Women Deliver team for the invitation, help and support through hard times, all amazing young leaders for the good time and Danes for the love.

Umair Mushtaq
was selected as young leader from Pakistan to share the work he was doing here for the betterment of Women and Girls. In Pakistan, he used theater as a tool to mobilize and engage young people in discussions about sexual and reproductive health and rights. His primary areas of interests are the promotion of SRHR, women & girl’s education and domestic abuse.

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