June 11, 2024
Amina Mohamed, Minister for Culture, read the opening remarks from the President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta.

By Commonwealth Press
Published October 22, 2019

Margaret Kobia, Kenya’s Minister for Public Service, Youth and Gender, shall chair the 12th Women’s Affairs Ministers Meeting that will serve as a platform for Ministers and senior officials of Government to tackle issues that hamper women’s progress.An all-female panel opened the 12th Women’s Affairs Ministers Meeting (WAMM) in Nairobi, 34 years after the first such event featured an all-male panel.

WAMM has been held every three years since 1985 and provides the opportunity for ministers, senior officials, civil society, private sector and partner agencies to explore and agree on workable strategies and solutions to tackle gender disparities.

Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland told delegates: “Looking back to 1985, almost all seats for the opening panel of first Women’s Affairs Ministers Meeting were occupied by men.

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“Today, all members of the panel are female, yet discrimination and prejudice are still daily realities for women in all our member countries.

“So equality is something all nations in the Commonwealth have to strive for, because gender imbalance and lack of equal opportunity and treatment remain, and pay differentials persist.”

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Minister for Culture, Amina Mohamed, read the opening remarks from the President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta.

In his statement, the President said: “We have made notable progress in our goal of women’s empowerment as a Commonwealth country, we still have some ways to go in this journey.

Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland with (l to r), Minister Amina Mohamed, Countess of Wessex HRH Sophie, United Nations Population Fund Executive Director Natalia Kanem, Minister Margaret Kobia

“It is about time we utilised ‘The Commonwealth Advantage’ to accelerate gender equality and empowerment of women and girls within the gender priorities set forth by the Commonwealth.”

Ambassador Mohamed said that women and girls are undermined by the lack of education, employment opportunities and access to healthcare.

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During the meeting, ministers reaffirmed the Commonwealth vision for ending inequalities, and developing the collective Commonwealth strategy for moving towards achieving gender equality goals during the decade 2020 to 2030.

Included in the strategy are progressive provisions for enabling more women to move into leadership positions, for moving towards universal access to minimum periods of free education and for strengthening access to modern family planning.

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fUhuru Kenyatta, 4th President of Kenya, said Kenya has made notable progress in our goal of women’s empowerment as a Commonwealth country, we still have some ways to go in this journey.WAMM chair, Professor Kobia, facilitated discussions and decision-making among ministers outlining the next steps for achieving a gender-equal Commonwealth.

The Countess said that Her Majesty the Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, was “delighted” that the meeting to further women’s rights was being held and would await news of its “full and productive outcomes”.

Describing herself as a passionate advocate for the Commonwealth, she said: “I will continue to support and champion your work in tackling gender inequality across the Commonwealth.

“This will not only secure a more equal platform on which women and girls can build, but deliver an empowered future for the women of our Commonwealth family.”

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Amina Mohamed, Minister for Culture, read the opening remarks from the President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta.Ministers considered a summary of the progress member countries have made on the four Commonwealth priorities for gender equality: women in leadership, women’s economic empowerment, ending violence against women and girls, and gender and climate change.

The study shows Africa steps ahead of other regions for its proportion of elected female leaders. Out of 13 Commonwealth countries that have achieved 30 per cent or more members of women in the parliaments, six are in Africa. Rwanda is the only country to achieve gender parity with 55.7 per cent of women in both houses of parliament.

The Commonwealth average for members of parliament who are women stands at 23 per cent which is still short of the global target of 30 per cent. However, more promisingly, in education, a girl is as likely as a boy to attend primary school.

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While there has been some progress, the Secretary-General stressed that there is still much to do to address persistent inequities between men and women.

“We now have an important opportunity in Nairobi to brief our leaders when they meet next year in Rwanda for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting on how we can mobilise increased engagement and action by the Commonwealth collectively towards achieving gender equality,” she said.

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