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Dr Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Women Executive Director and Kamalesh Sharma, Commonwealth Secretary-General

Working with UN Women for gender equality

22 September 2015

The Commonwealth and UN Women have pledged to work together to empower women through education, enterprise and leadership.

Speaking at the signing of an agreement between the two international organisations in New York on 22 September, Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma stressed the importance of women’s full participation in democratic processes and their equal access to economic and social opportunities.

 “We welcome this partnership. Both the Commonwealth and UN Women have strong track records of championing the rights of women.

“For the first time a Women’s Forum will take place alongside the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in November. This, together with our programmes to promote gender equality in member states, shows the strength of continuing Commonwealth commitment to empowering girls and women.  The agreement will open doors and create new opportunities as we progress our plans for gender equality in the Post-2015 era.”

The new partnership, in the form of a Memorandum of Understanding, comes days before world leaders agree on goals for gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls at the UN’s Sustainable Development Summit.

It will enhance the co-operation between the Commonwealth and UN Women on key issues, including women’s political participation and measures to tackle violence against women, improve access to education and facilitate female entrepreneurships.

UN Women Executive Director, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said: "Today we have signed into action a partnership that brings together not only shared values, but complementary strengths that will benefit girls and women throughout the Commonwealth family. Together our work will accelerate momentum in crucial areas that address barriers, build and nurture capacity, as well as track and declare progress."

The partnership will enable the organisations to pool existing resources and engage more effectively with grassroots groups and governments to ensure gender programmes are tailored and country-specific.