On Tuesday, November 24, meeting in advance of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, representatives from many sectors – politics, academia, civil society and the public and private sectors – convened to seek solutions to women’s under-representation at all levels of women in decision-making.
Discussions took place in a workshop co-hosted by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association UK, the Commonwealth Local Government Forum and the Commonwealth Secretariat as part of the Commonwealth Women’s Forum.
Closing the workshop, Baroness Verma, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the UK Department for International Development, called for women’s full and effective participation in political life: ‘Where women have no voice, societies under achieve’. Other discussion leaders included Rt Hon. Fiona Mactaggart MP (UK), Alison Zerafa, Mayor of Cospicua (Malta), Ms Renee Laiviera, National Commission for the Promotion of Equality, Malta, Peggy Tagalloatele Fairbain-Dunlop, Auckland University of Technology, and Hon. Margaret Wilson, Professor of Law and Public Policy and formerly New Zealand’s first female Speaker.
Participants of the half-day workshop spoke to four main levels:
-Women collectively – including through participation in Civil Society
-Institutions including local government, parliaments, governments and global governance frameworks
In an interactive and dynamic forum, participants stressed the importance of mentoring, ‘Look within what you do and ask where you can offer mentoring opportunities’; legislative frameworks, ‘Do some legislating not just persuading’; and that empowering women is an ongoing process ‘You can’t repeat too much, you’ve just got to do it differently.’
The Workshop took place as part of the Commonwealth Women’s Forum, at which participants called on member governments to meet a 50 per cent target for women in leadership across political and public life, and in the private sector. Taking place for the first time in Malta, the Women’s Forum was organised by the Government of Malta and the Commonwealth Secretariat against a global backdrop of ongoing gender discrimination, despite efforts to change the status of women in government and business.