Secretariat’s gender and economics portfolio to be advanced at New York meeting

17 February 2011

Annual consultation to focus on investment aimed at women’s development and increased access to finance for women’s enterprise

Ministers and senior officials responsible for promoting women’s empowerment and gender equality in the Commonwealth will meet in New York from 19-20 February 2011.

The two-day conference, which takes place prior to the 55th Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women, will focus on key decisions taken by Women’s Affairs Ministers who met in Barbados in June 2009. These include strengthening the Secretariat’s ability to chart new ground through work on ‘Gender Responsive Investment’ aimed at increasing access to finance by women entrepreneurs. Policy frameworks inclusive to women and gender issues will also be addressed.

A curriculum for women’s leadership training developed by the Secretariat in partnership with the Caribbean Institute for Women in Leadership and strategic partners, including the City University of New York, will be pre-tested and fine tuned with an expectation it will be introduced to women in member states over the next two years. The annual consultation of National Women’s Machineries and the Commonwealth Gender Plan of Action Monitoring Group provide a forum for the Secretariat to inform member governments about progress towards implementing the 10-year Commonwealth Plan of Action for Gender Equality 2005-2015.

Dr Sylvia Anie, Director with responsibility for Gender said: “We are at a crossroads where we have an opportunity to define a path towards inclusive development in which the people of the Commonwealth and globally are given the chance to enjoy equitable well-being. Our New York meeting, shortly preceding the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day on 8th March has a critical catalytic role to play in that process.”

Ms Esther Eghobamien, Head of Gender at the Secretariat, said: “We are at the halfway point in our Plan of Action, which outlines the Commonwealth’s commitment to gender equality. This meeting is significant in assessing progress so far – as well as looking forward in terms of the innovative work we are embarking on in gender and finance.”

The New York consultation will in addition, consider efforts and mechanisms for commemorating this year’s Commonwealth theme ‘Women as Agents of Change’ with Commonwealth partners. These will dovetail into preparations for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth in October 2011.