There is a need for increased resources to strengthen gender equality and women’s empowerment in all spheres, as well as link economic empowerment with access to quality education for all, including financial education and literacy for older women.
Arjoon Suddhoo, the Deputy Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, shared this as part of the recommendations from the just-concluded Commonwealth Women Forum.
Women across the Commonwealth gathered for a two-day meeting which included discussions on women and girls’ challenges and rights.
The recommendations are expected to be formalised and provided to Foreign Affairs Ministers ahead of the meeting of the Heads of Government at the end of this week.
Delegates called for collaboration among governments, businesses, and local leaders to address discrimination against older women, and provision of platforms for intergenerational dialogue not only to recognise the role older people play in society, but to also enable the transfer of skills from older women to younger ones.
Moreover, there is also a need for accountability mechanisms to take into account the intersectionality of women with disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, and age.
“If these mechanisms are not inclusive, we will undoubtedly leave people behind,” he said.
Other recommendations included the need to address violence against women.
Listening to survivors’ voices and needs, including designing and implementing initiatives, which engage men and boys, is of fundamental importance in efforts to end violence.
The official also noted that, to be effective, it requires high-level political commitment and leadership, active participation, as well as allocation of sufficient, sustainable funding.
As for cervical cancer, “Elimination requires combined joint efforts by many actors, including addressing the inequity of access to HPV vaccines and screening among others,” Suddhoo said.
The Commonwealth represents over 30 per cent of the world’s population, while it accounts for 40 per cent of the global cervical cancer incidence and 43 per cent of global mortality due to cervical cancer, he added.
The importance of collecting accurate and regular disaggregated data was a repeated theme as part of the outcomes.
“Without sufficient data, we do not know where gaps and progress are. This applies again to all spheres, from ending violence against women and girls to leading to economic empowerment and digital economy,” he explained.
Human Capital Development is a key priority for the whole of the Commonwealth. As part of meeting results, it has been raised for skills and literacy to be a focus area across sectors, so that girls and women are able to fully participate in the digital economy.
There was also a call to bring women in the informal sector into the formal sector, and provide access to finance.
The forum was attended by more than 500 women from across the Commonwealth.