OP-ED: A gender-equal society will move us all forward


I am extremely fortunate. I was born in Dominica to a father who was part of a generation of great Caribbean men. He believed in equality, and he believed in me. To him, his daughters were just as exceptional as his sons, and with my mother, he loved us and supported us while teaching us about duty, responsibility, and service.

Throughout my life and career, I have learned that, whether in the home, in work, or in political and economic systems, this enabling environment for women is not the norm. We have seen huge progress through the decades of my life, but gender equality remains far from being a reality. This is not just a concern for people who advocate for women’s rights; it impacts everyone, shaping the world we all share.

The World Bank estimates that inequality in earnings between women and men is costing our world $160 trillion a year – equivalent to around $23,620 per person. This figure is yet another reminder that when gender inequality persists in our society, we all lose. But it does not have to be this way.

Right now, there are exceptional leaders across the international system. From great Commonwealth Heads of Government including, Mia Mottley (Barbados) and Fiamē Naomi Mataʻafa (Samoa), to my dear sister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, leading the World Trade Organization, women leaders are driving real progress despite formidable challenges.

But they remain exceptions rather than the norm. Unfortunately, most women are disenfranchised, not by choice, but by prevailing structures. They struggle to provide for their families, face barriers to education, and are constrained from taking up leadership roles in society.

A recent study reveals that 2.7 billion women are legally restricted from having the same choice of jobs as men. There is still a substantial pay gap, which is compounded by the fact that women also shoulder a disproportionate share of
unpaid domestic and care work. While women are advancing in managerial roles, the transition to senior management and boardrooms remains sluggish – even though research has repeatedly shown that firms with more women in senior
leadership perform better.

In our world, grappling with the ever-constant threat of climate change, it is women and girls who bear the heaviest burdens and recover most slowly. About 80 per cent of those displaced by climate change are women. A closer look at the evidence shows that those women, who stay behind in affected areas, are more likely to experience increased poverty, loss of livelihoods and health issues. These are worrying trends, which should not be ignored in disaster response and recovery.

At the same time, the confluence of weak global growth, stubborn inflation, and rising debt is creating a lethal threat, which is fuelling poverty and limiting public investment in human capital, disproportionately impacting women. Such
disruptions are alarming signs that the gains made so far, as well as progress urgently needed, are under severe threat.

In fact, at the current pace, the goal of gender equality is 300 years away.

It is in this context that I convened the Commonwealth Women’s Affairs Ministers Meeting in The Bahamas this week to assess the current status of gender equality in the 56 Commonwealth countries and share perspectives to accelerate progress on this shared priority.

Together, we developed an action plan, geared towards better delivering for our 1.25 billion women and girls. The plan encompasses critical areas such as greater involvement of women in climate action, increased support for women with
disabilities, better representation of women in leadership, and stronger action on ending violence against women and girls.

In particular, we focussed on strategies to prioritise women in climate action –solutions that can concurrently address climate injustice and gender inequality, while benefiting society. The proposals from the meeting will be considered by
leaders at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Samoa next year.

What remains clear is that for gender equality to become a reality, the responsibility has to be shared across the political sphere, public and private sectors, and civil society. This mandates all of us to pool our expertise and
resources to dismantle oppressive structures and build new ones that are inclusive, leaving no one behind.

We know gender equality will eventually become a reality one day, but the question remains whether we should wait 300 years. The Commonwealth is determined to lead by example, defying this prediction.

Through mutual support and collaboration, my intention is to work with leaders to build a future for the Commonwealth where we all move forward. It is together that we shape a future for our women and girls that is prosperous, just, meaningful, and full of promise.


The Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC is the 6th Commonwealth Secretary-General. She was born in Dominica and was their candidate for the post at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Malta in 2015. She is the second Secretary-General from the Caribbean and the first woman to hold the post.

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  1. Charles Lester, Historian
    August 31, 2023

    I was walking the streets of Roseau and saw roads, buildings, shops with goods in them, ships in the dock – all of these were designed, worked on and produced by men to the tune of some 99%. No women protested about not being on the front lines of the battles of the last two world wars and other conflicts which saw the deaths of millions of men. There are no women on the front lines of the Ukaine /Russian conflict. But yet still, this person want’s “equality” between men and women. She, my friends, is deluded idiot who is pursuing the LGBTQI++ agenda which is designed to change the world to Satan’s wishes – basically, end the human race. For example, lets take 110 transgendered man and put them on a island and on another island, put 100 women and 10 men. On the second island, after 100 years, you will find a thriving community of many men and women. On the first island, after a 100 years, you will find 110 skeletons. Get my drift?

  2. Time for change
    August 30, 2023

    So if men behave rationally why is it a statistical fact that men commit the most murders and violence generally? It seems to me that over emotionality is a major cause for this.

  3. joseph charles
    August 29, 2023

    We are sucking the salt you gave us

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0
  4. Baba Louie
    August 29, 2023

    Now I know what verbal gibberish is. What are we to make of this foolishness, folley, and downright nonsense?

    Did the writer run this article by anyone for proof reading before hitting the send button?

    One of favorite sayings is clearly evident here: Better to remain silent and to be thought of a fool than to speak (or write) and remove all doubt! Nuff said!!!

  5. Man bite dogs
    August 29, 2023

    Francisco, you are over stepping the mark now Rr Hon
    Patricia Scotland KC, Commonwealth Secretary General.was never a convicted law breaker in England it was her employees that employed one illegal immigrant, in a matter of fact if she was a convicted law breaker she would never have got her top job from the Queen of England unlike America any conman can becomes a President.
    Having said that, I also think DNO should have a word with you and others because Slandering peoples good names is an offence and hefty fine or prison sentence Be careful Francisco.

  6. J.John-Charles
    August 29, 2023

    I would be happy if the honorable lady would explain to us the phrase “Climate Justice”
    She also mentioned “Gender Inequality” that is an other subject.
    These people are just playing with words.
    Here in the U.S.and other countries, you have people seeking attention who call themselves “Climate Activists” blocking the highways. I think they should get a life.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 7 Thumb down 4
    • Just Saying
      August 29, 2023

      A gender-equal society will move us all forward ? what she is asking to allow a man to marry a man and a woman to marry a woman. We have enough curse on Dominica already. Keep your ideology for the Western world. God man Adam and Eve. Not very good advise we are too small for that. Bless you!!!!!~

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 3
      • Richard
        September 2, 2023

        In DA we have a gender inequality. Most top positions in government and civil service are held by females. Is it purely for the fact that they have better voices to sing for their supper. Maybe on top of that there are certain female attributes, unique to them, that were always in high demand by Skerrit, Austrie, Blackmore and other leading cabal members. You all get my drift??

  7. If we knew better
    August 29, 2023

    Nonsense she talking. Women have gotten more help than anyone else over the last 20 years. https://www.youtube.com/shorts/1AhDC2ICAr0

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 4
  8. Francisco Etienne-Dods Telemaque
    August 29, 2023

    “I am extremely fortunate. I was born in Dominica to a father who was part of a generation of great Caribbean men.”
    You need yo shut up; your father was what part of what great Caribbean men what?
    Talk that crap to people who don’t know, your parents are Antiguans, who migrated to Dominica, as laborers, working like every other Antiguan, and people from Montserrat, St. Kitts, Anguilla, Barbados, and as far as British Guiana (now Guyana), to work in the days when Dominica was a major source of spices, cotton, and (citrus), lemon, lime, grapefruit, and oranges, Bay Oil, Copra
    Some of the Antiguan Scotland settled in the Village of Marigot, I even believe the Scotland who owned a small grocery shop no the connor of what we called the new bridge, had a small Estate in Layou Valley lived in Marigot prior; my aunt a Carib woman Harriet Valmond worked for him.
    You left Dominica when you were a child, never contributed any thing; only returned when you wanted something from Roosevelt.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 5
    • Alas
      August 29, 2023

      Why are you trying your best to belittle someone in whose shoes you cannot fit? Her father was a policeman and her mother was from Delaford. So get your facts right instead of getting on in a drunken stupor. You are just making a fool of yourself.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 4 Thumb down 12
  9. Scoping
    August 28, 2023

    Madam Secretary, as a fellow Dominican, I would like to commend your entire family on your individual and sum accomplishments.

    I must say, though, I have a different viewpoint regarding the dynamics of gender equality than the one you expressed.

    I firmly believe that gender equality was never meant to be for those of us who predicate our values and lives on the word of the Most High which outlines clearly delineated gender roles for us to fulfil.

    Sadly, divinely assigned familial / household roles have become blurred and twisted with the foundational concept and definition of head of household being among the predictable casualties.

    I fully acknowledge that the rapid abatement of family values during and after the slavery disturbed our natural familial order; however, realigning our beliefs and practices with the Creator’s original directives will be far more sensible than continuing down the current slippery slope of interventive correction you alluded to.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2
    • Asking, for a friend
      September 1, 2023

      Hmm, hm, can you.. ah..say that in English now? 8-O

  10. If we knew better
    August 28, 2023

    Why’s her hair always a mess? So, here she basically talking about the gender wage gap, which is absolutely a myth and a farce. Lets look at these videos for much more truth and clarity on the matter. Also, lets keep in mind that it is ILLEGAL to pay women differently from men for doing the same job. Otherwise, most places of employment would ONLY wire women if it was cheaper to hire female labor vs men.

    Lets not allow people like Baroness to spew nonsense. MEN AND WOMEN ARE NOT EQUAL. We are not the same. Men operate primarily through rationale and women initially through their feelings first. the average woman doesnt even understand men or how men think nor does she care to. https://www.youtube.com/shorts/mpSWE-r13uA check these videos out for a different view on what this woman wants you to think.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 7 Thumb down 4
  11. Pat
    August 28, 2023

    It’s all good, but just don’t take us down the dark alley of LGBTQixy to gain your Democrat friends in Washington a few votes.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 2
    • August 30, 2023

      Sorry, we are already in that dark alley as those of us who oppose this lifestyle prefer to remain silent.

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