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by Jonas Schøsler March 21, 2019 4 min read

The 21st Century’s Jeanne d’Arc

“It’s not a women’s issue, it’s a societal one – and the solution to a lot of things”

She eats breakfast with the eight world leaders to discuss gender equality. She is invited to The World Economic Forum in Davos, because she has demonstrated that gender equality give rise to economic wealth and psychical welfare. Her name is Katja Iversen and she is the president of Women Deliver, a global advocate for gender equality and the health and rights of girls and women.

“We have left the first ten footprints, but we still got a 100 more to tread”

Katja Iversen is proud of Women Deliver for helping put gender quality, and girls and women’s health and rights on a big and international agenda. More personally, she is honoured to have become a role model for a lot of girls and women. She has showed them that it is possible to be at the centre of political power without succumbing to others’ idea of what a woman should look like or how she should behave. Fundamentally, she is leaving her footprints by succeeding exactly as the person she wants to be, not how conventions would have her.

 “You can put almost anyone in front of me, and I will be neither intimidated nor astonished – just respectful”.

A dreamer of heart and a strategist of mind

“I sincerely dream of a world, where everybody is able to act out their potential regardless of where they are born, and irrespective of their gender, age, color or sexuality. A world where girls and women are not limited by prejudice, norms or an imbalance of power”

Even though Katja Iversen sees herself as a dreamer, she is no less of that of a visionary. She is fully aware of who the key players are and how to get them on board. She knows when to stand her ground, but also when to play along in order to make people realize that it is a win-win to focus on equality:

“We work hard. We change the world. And we have fun while doing it”

Women Deliver are cooperating with establishments such as the World Bank Group, McKinsey, UN, President’s offices and big academic institutions. Katja Iversen explains that they do it with rigorous presentation of evidence; continuously showing how women’s empowerment and gender equality are beneficial economically, socially, as an individual, a company and as a country. She reminds me, as we talk about fighting for one’s dreams, that if we forget to have fun along the way, we will find ourselves spiraling into a black hole. “Always remember to have fun”.

Harsh views, hopeful visions

“When you’re in my position, you eventually see things that are unimaginably horrid – if you don’t have a thick shield and a high spirit, darkness will shroud the lights of hope.”

Katja Iversen would like to be remembered as someone who made a change. Arguably she already has, but she believes that there is so much more to be done. Equality is not solely a progression forward. Political forces can easily turn the tides. The struggle to realize the dream of Katja Iversen and the rest of Women Deliver requires extraordinary vigilance and persistence to keep fighting the same battles over and over again. However, they are seeing some huge breakthroughs in these times, which is why she says that: “our dream is a dream, but not an unrealistic one. It is a doable dream”.

“When some doors close, others will open”

It became a defining moment in Katja’s life when she took the step from being backstage to frontstage. For many years she worked behind the curtain in NGO’s and the UN as she devised strategies and wrote the speeches. When she took the job at Women Deliver, she put herself in the spotlight. She never expected that she would end up discussing gender equality with world leaders over breakfast.

Katja Iversen learned an important lesson, when her relationship ended with the man, she thought she would have kids and a family with. She discovered that sometimes life will take away some of your opportunities and dreams, but it will give you new ones. There is always a potential for greatness in life, whether it’s about love or dreams – and it’s our ability to shine a light in times of darkness that will push us forward.

Katja Iversen → Majken Gilmartin

Katja’s advice on life is not to plan out all the details, because you will quickly end up disappointing yourself. Instead, you should get the best of your situation and keep your mood high. A quote that has been a drive in Katja’s career as well as a human being, is from Pippi Longstocking “When you’re strong, you must also be kind”. She translates this into:

“When you’re resourceful either physically, mentally, in wealth or in status, then you’re obliged to help others”

Katja Iversen wishes to hear more about the dreams and visions of Majken Gilmartin, the woman behind Global Goals and Eir Soccer.

Thanks to Katja for sharing her own dreams and visions.

Katja Iversen


Profession:President of Women Deliver  

Education:Master’s Degree in Communication


Jonas Schøsler
Jonas Schøsler


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