As I travelled to work last week, mentally racing through the growing list of things I had left to do before departing for Copenhagen, I absent-mindedly opened the book I had been filling my train journeys with. On the first page I read, the protagonist describes being told a magical tale by an older sibling. He says:
“That story, as all good stories, planted a seed in my soul and never left me.”
(The Fishermen, Chigozie Obioma, 2015)
I heard those words as though someone was speaking them aloud in my ear, then read them again, but more slowly, in that deliberate way you only ever bother to do when words make perfect sense or no sense at all.
They summed up, more eloquently than I ever could, the reason I first began reading Girls’ Globe’s posts, the reason I now love blogging as part of the team, and the reason I believe a global moment like the Women Deliver Conference is so incredibly important to creating a better and fairer world for women and girls.
The power of a story lies in its ability to plant that seed in your soul. Stories invite us to attune to a voice that is different to our own or the ones we hear every day, and to catch a fleeting glimpse of the world as it looks from where someone else is standing. Stories teach us about the lives of those around us and nudge us gently towards a better understanding of our own place in relation to them. And if all of those things combine and change some small part of our perspective, in a way that we sense might be irrevocable? Well that’s when we know it was a really, really good story.
At this week’s conference, stories will be told and recorded and shared and retold. Voices from across the globe will take to the stage, or the panel, or to social media, to talk about how the Sustainable Development Goals can be implemented so that they make a genuine impact on the lives of girls and women. There will be success stories, stories of challenge and failure, and ideas for stories yet to be written.
My hope is that the storytellers listened to most intently are the ones with most to gain from what a conference like Women Deliver can achieve. The women and girls currently unable to access quality healthcare. Mothers and babies most at risk of complications before, during and after birth. Girls robbed simultaneously of their childhood and their future by marriage. Girls at risk of FGM and a life full of resulting health problems. Women living on minimum wage, mothers without adequate support networks, victims of gender-based violence, those seeking refuge from conflict or disaster.
These are the voices that matter the most, and the ones I hope are heard loudest next week. These are the stories with the power to plant a seed in someone else’s soul that can never leave them. Ultimately, it’s that seed that inspires action, it’s that seed that leads to real change in our world.
Girls’ Globe is present at the Women Deliver Conference, bringing you live content straight from the heart of the action. If you can’t be there in person, you can be a part of Women Deliver through the Virtual Conference, by hosting an event in your hometown, and by engaging online using #WDLive and #WD2016.