The triennial 13th Commonwealth Women’s Affairs Ministers Meeting (13WAMM) on 21-23 August in Nassau in the Bahamas was bookended by the Women’s World Cup in Australia – at the start by the positive example of women’s potential, power and performance with its all-consuming impact in boosting women in sport in Commonwealth countries including Australia, Nigeria, Jamaica and the UK and at the end by a developing controversy over sexual harassment towards a Spanish player which underlined the challenges that remain. In the midst of this the world held its breath as the Commonwealth’s two largest countries were centre stage in overcoming spectacular odds – India in being the first country to successfully land on the challenging lunar south pole on the moon (in which women scientists played a crucial role without whose contribution the Indian Government said the achievement was not possible) and Pakistan in successfully rescuing eight people, mostly children, from a cable car dangling above a perilous mountain valley in an evocative reminder perhaps of how the Commonwealth, home to 1.3 billion women and girls with 60% under the age of 30 and 44% of the world’s poorest women, needs to aim higher in meeting their aspirations and not see their opportunities slip away.
Bloomsbury Institute was delighted to join Civil Society Bahamas who convened the only civil society and private sector side event with the Commonwealth Businesswomen’s Network (CBWN) bringing together a range of Governments, Commonwealth Accredited Organisations and local civil society stakeholders. This produced a set of recommendations including enhanced collaboration for economic empowerment, inclusive education and training and gender mainstreaming and policy integration.
In opening 13WAMM with delegations from 26 countries, Bahamas PM Philip Davis said that ‘one element to driving progress means doing more to make sure entrepreneurs have access to the capital and technical support necessary to bring their entrepreneurial dreams into fruition..…We need more than slogans – we need commitments.’
Against the backdrop of a recent UN report projecting that achieving gender equality, at the current pace, may take 300 years, 13WAMM provided a critical platform to take stock of the current status of gender equality and work together on strategies to accelerate progress on shared priorities. Ministers committed to a roadmap designed to scale up efforts to achieve gender equality and empower women and girls, especially in climate action. This was shaped by input from a range of stakeholders, including domestic violence survivors, civil society representatives, Commonwealth accredited organisations and women with disabilities. As part of this, Ministers pledged to enhance efforts to address inequality in several Commonwealth priority areas over the coming years including an enhanced role of women in climate finance, increased support for women with disabilities, more economic opportunities for women, better representation in decision-making and greater protections from gender-based violence. A very welcome campaign was also launched by Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland to promote men and boys’ engagement in building gender equity called ‘For the Women in my Life.’
On The Business Show, Arif speaks to representatives from Commonwealth organisations and local stakeholders who were at the Women’s Affairs Ministers Meeting and shares their key takeaways.