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A female entrepreneur from Grenada attends the Spring Fair International in Birmingham, UK

International Women's Day - Panel discussion at Marlborough House

Panel Discussion: Sustained education of women and girls for their economic and political empowerment

International Women’s Day (IWD) is marked annually on 8 March. It celebrates the achievements of women and girls across the globe while calling for gender equality.

To commemorate IWD the Commonwealth Secretariat is hosting a panel discussion at Marlborough House, on: 'Sustained education of women and girls for their economic and political empowerment'. 

In spite of all efforts to date to get more girls into school, many girls are still denied access and never go on to complete secondary school. 

The panel discussion will highlight the barriers to girls completing secondary education including but not limited to, violence against women and girls, sanitation, early and child forced marriage, and institutional bias. The discussion will also highlight the link between girls' education and career choice, and how this impacts on women and girls opportunities to participate in leadership and decision-making processes at all levels for their social, political and economic empowerment. 

The Commonwealth has a target of 30% of women in leadership across all sectors. A report on the Status of Women in Leadership Across the Commonwealth commissioned by the Secretariat and shared at the Commonwealth Women’s Forum revealed that while some progress has been made to advance women towards this target in political leadership, the same cannot be said for corporate leadership which still remains below 20% in many countries.

Research has shown that greater corporate board diversity leads to more efficiency, effectiveness and greater productivity when the perspectives of both men and women are taken into account and equal representation of women on boards can lead to more sustainable solutions and results.

The education and training of young women in subjects that may previously have been seen as traditionally male, such as science, technology, engineering and mathematics, has been highlighted as one of the strategies to achieve gender parity in decision making, and will ultimately enable young women to be exposed to greater opportunities for moving into leadership positions alongside men. 


International Women's Day was first celebrated by the United Nations on 8 March during International Women’s Year 1975. The 2016 global theme for IWD is gender parity.

Sustainable Development Goals

Under the new internationally agreed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), SDG 5 focuses on ‘gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls’, a key cross-cutting goal which underpins the achievement of all 17 goals.