Around 2,000 people gathered in Dhaka’s Banghabandu International Conference Centre for the official opening of the 10th Commonwealth Women’s Affairs Ministers Meeting today.
Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma said it was strikingly appropriate that this week’s meeting should convene in Bangladesh, a nation where remarkable progress against social indicators can be measured, and the achievement of genuine transformation demonstrated.
Mr Sharma said: “This conference brings inspiration to the Commonwealth. It is lifted even further by the rare fact that we assemble in a country where the Head of Government, the Speaker of Parliament – until recently the Minister of Women’s and Children’s Affairs, the Leader of Opposition, the Foreign Minister, and of course the Minister of Women’s and Children’s Affairs, our Chair for this Ministerial Meeting, are all women.”
Speaking to the theme of the ministerial meeting, ‘Women’s Leadership for Enterprise,’ Mr Sharma said: “Women’s economic empowerment is inseparable from the realisation of women’s rights in social and political areas, and the attainment of gender equality.
Before declaring the meeting open, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and the Secretary-General awarded trophies to the two winners of the 'Women's Leadership for Enterprise' Essay competition. Malaysia's Tang Sze Lin won first place in the 15-17 age category while Nonyem Obiageli Odili from Nigeria received the first prize in the 18-29 age category. Prime Minister Hasina and Mr Sharma congratulated runner up Zayan Waziha Faiyad from Bangladesh along with the winners.
Over the next two days, ministers will explore such areas as women’s financial inclusion, leadership for democracy and enterprise and priorities for the global gender agenda after 2015, the target for attainment of the Millennium Development Goals.
On Tuesday, Ms Freda Miriklis, President of the International Federation of Business and Professional Women, will deliver the keynote address on ‘Women’s Leadership for Development and Democracy in the Commonwealth.’
Bangladesh’s new State Minister for Women and Children Affairs, Meher Afroze Chumki, will chair the meeting.