Commonwealth women’s affairs ministers will meet in The Bahamas, from 21 to 23 August 2023 to consider strategies for achieving gender equality across all 56 member countries.
The proposed strategies include ways to adopt an intersectional approach that empowers women and girls with disabilities, ensure gender-responsive climate action, and establish a robust framework for reporting on Commonwealth priorities for gender equality.
The meeting details for the Commonwealth Women’s Affairs Ministers Meeting were announced by the Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC, and the Minister of Social Services and Urban Development of the Bahamas, Hon Obediah Wilchcombe, during a briefing session for London-based high commissions on 17 July 2023.
Speaking at the briefing, the Commonwealth Secretary-General said:
“Since our last meeting in Nairobi in 2019, we have experienced an unprecedented global pandemic, severe economic shocks, an ever-worsening climate crisis and the torment of instability and conflict. We know that when a crisis hits, women and girls experience the impacts disproportionately.
“So, the context for our upcoming meeting is serious and challenging, demanding our unwavering attention. Yet, within this context, we have a unique opportunity for our member countries to join forces and lead the way towards achieving gender equality.”
“While we face many challenges, our collective experience, skills, and capacity enable us to transcend these obstacles. Today’s discussion is a vital step as we work together to rise above our shared challenges and pursue our common goals.”
The ministerial meeting serves as the principal decision-making body for women’s affairs ministers to review the progress made in achieving four Commonwealth gender equality priorities: women in leadership, women’s economic empowerment, ending violence against women and girls, and gender and climate change. This year, a special focus will also be on the inclusion of women and girls with disabilities.
Participating remotely in the briefing, Minister Wilchcombe said:
“A culture of gender inequality and gender-based violence destroys the very fabric of our societies and weakens our families… With weak families, we cannot achieve the mandate of the Commonwealth which speaks to being governed in environments of peace and prosperity.
“The collective strength of our communities should fuel our optimism for achieving the life-changing outcomes of the Women’s Affairs Ministers Meeting in August.”
Before the ministerial meeting, several events will take place in August 2023, including an online civil society roundtable organised by the Commonwealth Foundation, a senior officials meeting, and a high-level side event hosted by the Spouse of the Prime Minister of The Bahamas, Ann Marie Davis. The conclusions drawn from these events will be presented to the ministers, informing their discussions.
In his welcome remarks, acting High Commissioner of The Bahamas, Marché Mackey, said:
“The meeting is not just about demonstrating commitment and progress. It is also about acknowledging the challenges we face on the issue of gender equality, and garnering the support of our Commonwealth family to aid in our acceleration of the critically important issues affecting women.
“We have some work to do but every little step helps to get us closer to the goal of guaranteeing ‘equality towards a common future’ - the theme of this year’s meeting.”
The outcomes of the ministerial meeting will play a crucial role in shaping the gender equality agenda for the upcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, scheduled to take place in Samoa in 2024.
This will be the 13th triennial Commonwealth Women’s Affairs Ministers Meeting. It will be chaired by Minister Obediah Wilchcombe.
- Snober Abbasi Senior Communications Officer, Communications Division, Commonwealth Secretariat
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