A gathering of senior women commentators, columnists and activists heard about the Commonwealth’s practical action towards achieving gender equality across its 53 member states by 2030.
The panel discussion entitled “The Era of Women: The Drive to Achieving Balance” was hosted by Athena40, a forum that brings together top female forward thinkers - including authors, academics, entrepreneurs, executives and innovators.
In a keynote address to the gathering at the British Library in London, Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland emphasized the commitment made by Commonwealth leaders to work towards achieving 50-50 gender representation in corporations and institutions by 2030.
The commitment includes ratifying and implementing the UN’s Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), through legislation, policies and programmes that mainstream and promote gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls in social, economic and political life.
“We cannot think of progress towards achieving the broader goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development without thinking about overcoming prejudice and discrimination of any kind, or working for gender equality and including people of all ages,” said the Secretary-General.
“Gender equality and empowerment of women and girls through education and social and economic inclusion are also vital factors in being responsive to the ambitions and aspirations of all our citizens,” she added.
Through programmes and technical assistance, the Commonwealth has been working to increase the participation of women in corporate decision-making at all levels.
“I have often pointed out that corporations and institutions perform best and function most successfully when there is equality of representation between women and men,” she said. “not more of one or the other, but a 50/50 balance, because parity leads to progress.”
Elizabeth Filippouli, founder of Athena40, said the Secretary-General’s speech about the need to build on social capital and create wealth by tapping into female talent and potential resonates with her Foundation.
"We are most thankful to Baroness Scotland for her support at the launch of Athena40. Our mission in promoting women and values-based leadership overlaps with the vision of the SG and we will be keen to and ready to support her mission," she said.