RTI Global Gender Center Hosts Ending Gender Inequalities Conference in South Africa
The RTI Global Gender Center hosted the 2018 Ending Gender Inequalities Conference on October 8 – 9 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Building on the success of the first conference in 2016, this meeting brought together renowned gender experts and activists to share the impact of their work toward eliminating gender inequality around the world. With nearly 200 attendees from more than 30 countries, the event was a success at addressing gender issues at a global scale.
The theme of this year’s conference was Evidence to Impact. This theme informed the central question of the conference: how do we translate knowledge—from both research and personal experiences—into practice?
Collaboration is the solution. Conference Emcee Redi Tlhabi, a distinguished South African journalist, said: “For us to make progress in the fight against gender inequality, we need each other.”
Conference Director and RTI Global Gender Center Director Dr. Wendee Wechsberg explained, “Ending gender inequalities is the responsibility of all global citizens. We’re here to share collective wisdom, voices, to increase understanding and raise visibility. Our goal is to foster collaborations, exchange what we’ve learned, and become great agents of change.”
The conference included a forum on how to move impact into policy and further action, a poster reception featuring nearly 100 researchers from around the world, panel discussions, as well as symposiums on key topics such as keeping girls in school, reproductive health care, and access to HIV treatment.
Keynote speakers included:
- Agnes Pareyio, a Kenyan women’s rights activist, spoke on how ending female genital mutilation contributes to women’s empowerment and gender equality.
- Nabila El-Bassel, a professor of social work at Columbia University, presented on gender inequalities among refugee women.
- Glenda Gray, of the South African Medical Research Council, discussed treating and preventing HIV among women and children.
- Grizelda Grootboom, a South African human trafficking survivor and activist, shared a deeply personal story about her experience and how she works to support and rehabilitate other survivors.
The international venue for the event also allowed for participation from community representatives. Many local activists, including youth, shared their personal stories during the event. South African poets and singers also shared their talents with attendees. Notably, the Mzansi Youth Choir closed the conference with a moving performance.
Ultimately, this conference offered a space for networking and collaboration to inspire change. RTI Board of Governors member Hilda Pinnix-Ragland highlighted how RTI is turning knowledge into action. “We’re celebrating 60 years – 60 years of really changing the world.”
“We must listen to the communities, the local people, to understand culturally what is going to fit and what is going to be the language of the research, and not just say we know what to do here.”
"What I have especially found rewarding is to bring together the skills, the resources, and the wisdom of industry and universities and government agencies in a way that they work together."
"I am so grateful to have the opportunity to work on applied, gender-focused projects in the community in which I grew up, in hopes of having an impact on HIV, STIs and other health outcomes among African-American adolescent girls and young women."
“We owe it to the children in this county to ensure that their learning environments are safe and that they have a fair chance for academic success."
"Care and treatment for survivors of sexual gender-based violence is a critical step toward prevention and justice."