When you invest in girls and women, everybody wins.

It’s hard to believe it’s been less than 6 weeks since the end of the Women Deliver Conference. Kupona’s Executive Director, Abbey and External Affairs Manager, Alexandra joined nearly 6,000 conference attendees in Copenhagen – an inspiring group of clinicians, advocates, youth leaders, healthcare workers, policy makers, fundraisers, philanthropists, thought leaders and Muppets (no, really), all committed to one idea: when you invest in girls and women, everybody wins.

Positivity, motivation and determination ran through every dialogue. Nobody was saying, “we can’t.” Every single person was asking “how can we?”

Alexandra shows her Binti doll pin to Chamki, a Sesame Street Muppet teaching children in India about sanitation.

As global health advocates, we were excited to see causes close to our hearts, including maternal and newborn healthcare, obstetric fistula and access to safe surgery, have more than one moment in the spotlight. As fundraisers, we were challenged to look at philanthropy and partnership in new ways. As women, we were empowered by the wave of support for the future development of our global community.

Celebrating Johnson & Johnson’s fistula program, for which they received the GBCHealth 2016 Women & Girls Business Action on Health Award

As we take a moment to reflect on the conference, three things stand out:

The importance of multi-sectoral partnership

We’ve talked about the importance of partnership before. Throughout the conference, speakers emphasized the value of multi-sectoral approaches, including HRH Crown Princess Mary of Denmark, Priya Agrawal and Naveen Rao from Merck for Mothers. We couldn’t agree more, and have seen this working effectively in our own programs. When we combine skills and expertise from every sector, we create a breadth and depth of knowledge that is required for sustainable change.

An address from HRH Crown Princess Mary of Denmark


We know the solutions

Throughout the week, it was reiterated that there are simple, effective and tested solutions to the challenges facing women and girls. We just need to mobilize to implement them, and harness the will to make change happen. Technology plays a role, but technology alone is not the answer. As Mohammed Yunus shared during a plenary session, “Poverty should be in a museum, not in human society.” We know what needs to be done to end poverty, and empower communities to thrive. The time to trigger that change is now.

The ripple effect

We heard this message several times a day in Copenhagen: when you invest in girls and women, everybody wins. We’ll keep repeating it, because it’s true. An investment in the health and wellbeing of girls and women has a ripple effect that amplifies impact across an entire community. Healthy women and girls are more likely to finish their education and secure gainful employment. Their children are more likely to go to school. Their families will be healthier, better educated and more prosperous, contributing to their community and triggering productivity gains for the entire country.

On the final day of the conference we were challenged to take action. At Kupona, we took this very seriously!

Abbey Kocan sharing Kupona’s work with our friends at Girls’ Globe

The day after the conference ended, we released a Huffington Post blog challenging readers to imagine a world free from fistula. On our first day back in the office we co-hosted our first ever Twitter chat with CCBRT, Fistula Foundation and UNFPA to mark the 4th International Day to End Obstetric Fistula on May 23rd. #FistulaDay made over 3 million impressions on the Twittersphere, spreading the word about fistula and the programs and partnerships working to eradicate it.

Two days later, we celebrated the launch of our Drawing Out Obstetric Fistula art Exhibition  at the NYU Kimmel Center and committed to do our part to end fistula within a generation. Exhibition sponsors Johnson & Johnson, UNFPA, New York University and NYU College of Global Public Health joined us, along with old friends and new, for an intimate reception and private viewing of the art with the artist, Dr. Jac Saorsa. We’re currently exploring opportunities to extend this powerful exhibition into the fall – stay tuned for more information. If you aren’t in NYC, you can check out the online exhibition hosted by our partner, Fistula Foundation, which features Dr. Saorsa’s work alongside an audio recording in which she takes visitors on a behind-the-scenes look at the subjects of her drawings.


(L-R) Abbey Kocan, Jac Saorsa, Alex Cairns, Katia Geurts, Samantha Bossalini

On June 17th, we welcomed a diverse and distinguished group to the home of our Board member James Mann, raising funds to support 30 safe deliveries for mothers and their newborns.

These last 6 weeks have been nothing but action for the benefit of women and girls living in poverty. Thank you for helping us maintain momentum! Visit our Learn how you can play your part: follow us on Facebook and Twitter and sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date with the latest news.