Commonwealth Gender Equity Study Shows Progress

By Irene Gaitirira
Published October 21, 2019

Patricia Janet Scotland, a dual citizen of the United Kingdom and Dominica, is the 6th Secretary-General of the Commonwealth of Nations and the first woman to hold the post.A new survey finds ‘impressive improvements’ in women’s access to maternal health, enrollment in primary school and participation in the workforce.

The technical paper, that was released at the 12th Women’s Affairs Ministers Meeting in Nairobi in Kenya suggest that a girl is as likely to attend primary school as a boy is in the 53-member country Commonwealth bloc with a population of 2.4 billion people.

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Against this progress, the paper highlights that persistent gender stereotypes and prejudices in policy-making, budgeting and service delivery are disrupting progress.For instance, only one in five Commonwealth parliamentarians is a woman. Of every 10 girls, only seven attend secondary school. Thirty-two of the 53 countries do not mandate equal pay for work of equal value.

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Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland is flanked by (l to r) Kenya's Culture Minister Amina Mohamed, Countess of Wessex HRH Sophie, United Nations Population Fund Executive Director Natalia Kanem and Kenya's Civil Service Minister Margaret Kobia during the 12th Women’s Affairs Ministers Meeting Kenya“The paper summarises progress in the Commonwealth priorities for gender equality 2017–20, outlines the continuing obstacles and barriers to achieving women and girls’ empowerment and gender equality in the Commonwealth, and shares good practices from member countries which offer ideas and strategies that other countries may learn from and apply across this unique family of nations,” Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland says. “The paper also reflects our commitment to ensure that women and girls are regarded as equal partners with men and boys in shaping our common future.”

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The Commonwealth undertook the paper to assess and inform ministers on the progress made in 53 member countries in four priority areas: women in leadership, women economic empowerment, ending violence against women and girls, and gender and climate change.

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