Katja Iversen is the President and CEO at Women Deliver
Katja Iversen is the President and CEO of Women Deliver – a leading global advocate for gender equality and the health and rights of girls and women. Iversen, an internationally recognized expert on development, advocacy and communications, with than 25 years of experience working in NGOs, corporates and United Nation agencies. Previously, she served as Chief of Strategic Communication and Public Advocacy with UNICEF, a position she came to after almost six years of leading the advocacy and communication team on reproductive health with UNFPA. She holds a master’s degree in communications, bachelor’s degree in public administration and certificates in management, conflict resolution and international development. Iversen has worked in global development for over 20 years and has extensive networks within the UN, development communities and global media. She has counseled and trained Fortune 500 executives on cross cultural management and communication. She is a member of President Macron’s G7 Gender Equality Advisory Council, the Unilever Sustainability Advisory Council, the MIT Women & Technology Solve Leadership Group, and an International Gender Champion. Iversen was recently named 2018 Dane of the Year and included in the top 10 of Apolitical’s Top 100 Most Influential People in Gender Policy.
What brought you to Davos 2019?
Alongside Women Deliver, every day I push, pull and nudge to drive investments in girls, women and gender equality. Because we know and can prove that women deliver – and a lot more than babies. Or put another way, the whole world wins when we invest in girls and women.
I went to Davos to meet with CEOs, Heads of States, and other global influencers. I spoke with them to remind them that when women can decide on their own lives and bodies, when they participate on equal footing in society, when they enter, remain, and advance in the work force – including to the C-Suite – the wins for the woman and for all are immense. However, when the world stifles women – in the workplace and in society at large – it literally costs us trillions.
My goal was to get these leaders to see the state of the world – and the future – through a strong gender lens. And to get them to invest in gender equality and girls and women – politically, socially, and economically. Not only because it is the right thing to do from a human rights perspective, but also because it is socially smart and economically sound.
Defining leadership moment at Davos:
At Women Deliver, we know that young people are not just the leaders of tomorrow – they are already leading and taking the world by storm today. We see this every day through our Young Leaders program, where Women Deliver Young Leaders champion initiatives to advance gender equality and the health and rights of girls and women from the very front lines of these fights.
To that end, it was gratifying to see young people take center stage at Davos. Six of this year’s the seven co-chairs were trailblazers under the age of 30. There were also hundreds of Young Global Leaders and Global Shapers at the Forum. And what’s more, one of the most talked-about speeches came from 16-year old climate activist Greta Thunberg – who told global leaders that she didn’t want their hope, she wanted them to panic … and act.
It was remarkable to see youth taking the future back and taking charge in a global stage that until recently was exclusively reserved for the seasoned and the powerful. It gave me hope for the future we are all crafting together.
Personal motivation to advocate for women and girls:
In many ways, my grandmother is the source of my convictions and my sense of purpose. She was a remarkable woman: Quiet, fierce, smart, hardworking, and loving. She had brains, but lacked opportunity: from a small age, she took care of her home and worked the family’s small plot of land while the family invested the little money they had in her brother’s education. I can only imagine how far she would have gone had she been born two generations later and able to live her full potential.
My grandmother saved my life when I was born almost five weeks too early. The day I had my first menstruation, she told me about contraception. The day I graduated college, she cried tears of joy. And on her death bed she made me promise that I would go out and change the world for girls and women. She is my yard stick when people say that change is impossible. It is not! It just takes time, and people willing to fight for the right thing and ready to stick to a cause even when progress is incremental and hard won. But it does not have to take two generations!
Where can people learn more about you and your key projects?
Every three years Women Deliver hosts our signature event – the world’s largest conference on gender equality, and the health and rights of girls and women. The Women Deliver 2019 conference will be held 3-6 June in Vancouver, Canada and bring more than 7000 people together on-site and 100000 off-site. It will serve as a fueling station for collaboration and action around policies, programs and projects that put girls and women front and center. And it will focus on solutions to accelerate progress for girls and women everywhere and close the gender gap worldwide.
You can also let more about our work – including about our advisory roles and big campaigns – at https://womendeliver.org/.
When the world invests in girls and women there is a ripple effect that benefits individuals, communities, and entire countries – and everybody wins.