Commonwealth governments and leading campaigners have formed an alliance to deliver on the promise of gender equality and end violence against women and girls, including achieving justice for women in courts.
This is one of the resolutions of the 11th Commonwealth Women’s Affairs Ministerial Meeting (WAMM) which closed yesterday in Apia, Samoa.
It was held under the theme ‘Gender equality through sustainable development in an inclusive Commonwealth.’
Among the recommendations is advocating for a minimum of 30 per cent representation of women in senior positions in the public and private sectors.
The recommendations that borrow from resolutions from the Women Leaders’ Summit held in July in London are meant to strengthen and reinforce actions, and secure further support for implementation.
The Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Patricia Scotland, speaking at the meeting, said, “We are bringing together women leaders and human rights campaigners from across the Commonwealth to celebrate women’s achievements and, ultimately, seek solutions to overcome the obstacles that squander women’s potential.”
“By better empowering women, the world can benefit from their talents, drive and passions that go so underutilised.”
Delegates from 14 member countries attended the meeting, coming against the backdrop of concerns over low proportion of elected female leaders.
The meeting took place almost a year after the adoption by the Commonwealth member states and the rest of the world of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals, (SDGs) as well as the Paris Climate Change Agreement.
In pursuance of the 2030 Agenda and SDGs, the ministers reiterated that realising gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls is critical and will make an essential contribution to progress across all the SDGs and targets.
They also noted the importance of systematic mainstreaming of a gender perspective in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.
The meeting focused on the contribution that the Commonwealth can make towards the achievement of the SDGs, with an emphasis on promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment.
“We will continue to build on our progress, taking decisive actions towards equal access, balanced representation and greater participation for all women. I look forward to the Commonwealth members committing as a powerful dynamic alliance of nations to new and transformative initiatives that will pave the way for gender equality across the globe,” Scotland noted.
Only one of the 11 Pacific Island countries achieved the 30 per cent target for female cabinet ministers, with three countries – Tonga, Vanuatu and Tuvalu – having no female cabinet ministers at all.
New Zealand is best performing in the region, with seven female ministers in the 20-strong cabinet, exceeding the 30 per cent target.
Rwanda is the world leader in the proportion of woman lawmakers, boasting a majority (64 per cent) female parliament, while women constitute 40 per cent of the cabinet.
The meeting has been held triennially since 1985 and provides the opportunity for ministers, senior officials, civil society, private sector and partner agencies to discuss critical issues in advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment.
It also contributes to the setting of Commonwealth priorities and the global agenda for sustainable and inclusive development.