The Women Leaders in Global Health (WLGH) conference is in its inaugural year, although the numbers might suggest otherwise. Held at Stanford University on October 12, more than 400 individuals from over 250 organizations in 68 countries were in attendance. Furthermore, 400 viewers from across the globe joined in via live stream. The event celebrates women in global health leadership while aiming to cultivate the next generation of women leaders.

Grassroot Soccer (GRS) was represented by Global Director of Strategy Chelsea Coakley and GRS South Africa Managing Director Pulane Baloyi. Below are five powerful takeaways.

1. “The work doesn’t stop when you persuade people you’re right.” Melinda Gates‘ virtual address spoke to the power and progress of women in global health, but stressed the need for continued growth, recognition, and advancement.

2. A feminist future for global health means disrupting the conventional. Kavita Ramdas, Senior Advisor of Global Strategy at the Ford Foundation, said it best: “What does a feminist Global Health future look like? Challenging the status quo. Fight for different values than those celebrated today – misogyny, bigotry, and xenophobia. It’s more intersectional and diverse – women must fight for all the voiceless voices.”

3. Changing the world for women is not a “women’s issue” – it requires full participation from men, too.  Mamphela Ramphele, co-founder of Reimagine SA, urged the audience to consider systemic causes of inequality: “Have compassion for why men oppress women – think about how to enlist them, based on understanding of how they have been shamed and oppressed themselves.”

Pulane Baloyi, Mamphela Ramphele, and Chelsea Coakley at WLGH 2017.

4. Purposeful mentorship is essential. Being a role model should not be a passive act; instead, it should be the goal of all women to actively help those around them. Ambassador Deborah Birx (PEPFAR), issued a call to action: “Intentionally mentor other women.”

To see Grassroot Soccer Coaches practicing purposeful mentorship – and its powerful impact – click here.

Image courtesy of Slingshot Media, 2017.

5. Meet people where they’re at. Successful global health practices work to understand the context of needs before jumping to address them. At a human-centered design workshop facilitated by The Curious Company, individual needs were placed front and center of a multi-step process: Define the problem, create and iterate, implement, and – most importantly – learn throughout. The Curious Company’s founder, Pam Scott, uses the following quote as a guidepost (often attributed to Mahatma Gandhi):  “What you do for me, but without me, you do against me.”

Want to learn more? Find out how Grassroot Soccer is addressing gender-based issues and sexual and reproductive health and rights. To stay up to date on news, impact stories, and ways you can help change the game for young people, subscribe to our newsletter.