The 56 Commonwealth member countries’ ministers for women’s affairs will meet in The Bahamas from 21-23 August to 2023, to debate strategies for achieving gender equality.
The purpose of the meeting is to discuss strategies for achieving gender equality. These strategies include adopting an intersectional approach to support women and girls with disabilities, ensuring that climate action is gender-responsive, and establishing a framework for reporting on Commonwealth goals for gender equality.
During a briefing for high commissions in London on July 17, 2023, the Commonwealth Secretary-General, Patricia Scotland, and the Minister of Social Services and Urban Development of The Bahamas, Obediah Wilchcombe, provided details about the meeting. They acknowledged the challenges faced since the last meeting in Nairobi in 2019, such as the global pandemic, economic shocks, climate crisis, instability, and conflict. They emphasised the disproportionate impact of crises on women and girls. Despite these challenges, they expressed optimism and highlighted the opportunity for member countries to work together towards achieving gender equality.
The ministerial meeting will focus on four key priorities: women in leadership, women’s economic empowerment, ending violence against women and girls, and gender and climate change. This meeting serves as the main decision-making body for women’s affairs ministers, with a particular emphasis on the inclusion of women and girls with disabilities.
Minister Wilchcombe emphasised the importance of addressing gender inequality and gender-based violence, as they undermine societies and weaken families. He highlighted the need for strong families to achieve the Commonwealth’s mandate of peace and prosperity.
A culture of gender inequality and gender-based violence destroys the very fabric of our societies and weakens our families…
The collective strength of our communities should fuel our optimism for achieving the life-changing outcomes of the Women’s Affairs Ministers Meeting in AugustMinister Wilchcombe
Prior to the ministerial conference, there will be an online civil society discussion organised by the Commonwealth Foundation, a meeting of senior officials, and a high-level side event hosted by Ann Marie Davis, the Spouse of the Prime Minister of The Bahamas. The outcomes of these events will inform the ministers’ discussions.
Marché Mackey, the Interim High Commissioner for The Bahamas, emphasised the significance of the meeting in addressing gender equality challenges and seeking support from the Commonwealth family. She highlighted the theme of this year’s conference, “equality towards a common future,” and emphasised the importance of taking small steps to achieve the goal.
The conclusions drawn from the Commonwealth women’s affairs ministers gathering will play a critical role in shaping the gender equality agenda for the future Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, scheduled to take place in Samoa in 2024.