About this event

  • Date and time Wed 17 Nov 2021 from 6:30pm to 7:45pm
  • Location Online
  • Organised by Public Engagement Programme, Linnean Society of London

Book your place to join the 2021 Darwin lecture live stream, this year delivered by Professor Dame Lesley Regan, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Imperial College London. Professor Regan will consider whether we will be able to achieve SDG-5 gender equality by 2030. 

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were established by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015, with the expectation that they should be reached by 2030. These SDGs follow and expand upon the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which ran from 2000-2015. The SDGs represent a set of targets for countries across the world, designed to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all.  

Two of the 17 SDG goals explicitly recognise the pivotal importance of girls and women, alongside their ability to access education and healthcare, if we have any chance of achieving these ambitious aims. SDG-3 calls on governments to 'Ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages' and outlines specific targets to reduce global maternal mortality and ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive healthcare. 

SDG-5 sets society the challenge to ‘Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls by 2030.’ This goal further emphasises the importance of universal sexual and reproductive health and includes commitments to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls, together with the elimination of harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage, trafficking, sexual exploitation and female genital mutilation. 

The clock is ticking and we are moving swiftly towards the halfway mark of this ambitious 15-year program of global goals. So let us all focus on the contributions we can make, both collectively and individually to achieve, rather than just promote gender equality and the empowerment of all girls and women. We need to make SDG-5 everyone’s business for the simple reason that "...the health and wealth of a nation is determined by the health of its’ girls and women". As Ban Ki-moon, Former UN Secretary-General, stated, "Let the 21st century be the century of women. Because when we empower women, we empower communities, nations and the entire human family". 

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Key speakers

Lesley Regan

Professor Dame Lesley Regan

Professor of Obstetrics, Imperial College London and Head of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, St Mary's Hospital

Speaker's biography

Professor Dame Lesley Regan is Professor of Obstetrics at Imperial College London and Head of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at St Mary's Hospital. She is also director of the Women's Health Research Centre, co-director of the UK Pregnancy Baby Bio Bank and co-chair of the People and Culture Committee (Athena SWAN) for the Department of Metabolism, Digestion and Reproduction at Imperial.


Having graduated from the Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine, London, in 1980 Professor Regan pursued her career at Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, where she first became enthused by clinical and laboratory research, completing an MD on miscarriage. She went on to set up the world’s largest recurrent miscarriage clinic at St Mary’s Hospital in London.


In 2015 she received a Doctorate of Science from University College London for her contribution to women's health. Professor Regan was the 30th President (2016-2019) of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, only the second woman to ever hold this role and the first in sixty-four years.


Since 2018 she has been co-Chair of the national Women’s Health Task Force (jointly with the health minister), Secretary-General of FIGO (the International Federation of Gynaecology & Obstetrics) and a member of the NHS Assembly.


Professor Regan was awarded a DBE for her services to women’s health in the 2020 New Year’s Honours List.


View the programme here

Welcome and introduction

Professor Roger Kirby, President, Royal Society of Medicine

Will we be able to achieve SDG-5 gender equality by 2030?

Professor Dame Lesley Regan, Professor of Obstetrics, Imperial College London and Head of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, St Mary's Hospital

Questions and answers
Vote of thanks

Dr Sandra Knapp, President, Linnean Society of London

Close of meeting



Special rates for difficult times

The RSM wishes to offer healthcare professionals continued learning opportunities during the coronavirus pandemic. The RSM’s weekly COVID-19 Series webinars remain free of charge, while there will be small charges to register for other online education. These fees will enable the RSM to continue its programme of activities and will apply during the course of the pandemic.

Registration for this meeting will close 24 hours prior to the start time.

If UK government guidelines and restrictions change, the format of this event will be updated to comply, and all delegates will be notified via email.