CANROP and NRWPTT at theinaugural Commonwealth Women’s Forum

Trinidad women at CHOGM 2015 – Inaugural Commonwealth Women’s Forum

The Network of NGOs of Trinidad and Tobago welcomes the participation of Mrs Sharon Rowley, wife of the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago as part of the official delegation. The Spouse/ Partners programme at CHOGM is a well-established and important part of the CHOGM agenda.

CHOGM 2015 also includes the inaugural Commonwealth Women’s Forum. The theme for the forum is Women Ahead: Be All That You Can Be. This message is clear in highlighting the empowerment of women who have the potential to change their own economic status as well as that of the communities and countries where they live. More often than not, women’s economic contributions go un-recognised and unequal opportunities continue to hamper their ability to empower themselves and improve their lives. The Women’s Forum will have an impact at an international level including Trinidad and Tobago.

 

Women have the potential to change their own economic status, as well as that of the communities and countries in which they live. Yet more often than not, women’s economic contributions go unrecognized, and unequal opportunities between women and men continue to hamper women’s ability to empower themselves and improve their lives. In societies where equality for all is not just a notion but a tangible reality, communities are enriched by the diversity of contributions which transcend gender, in all aspects of life. This is the future we envisage for the one billion women who live in the Commonwealth. 

 

The idea for the first Commonwealth Women’s Forum emerged following the 10th Commonwealth Women Affairs Ministers Meeting that took place in 2013 in Bangladesh. Here, the members of the Commonwealth Gender Plan of Action Monitoring Group, which included Ms. Hazel Brown, and Mrs Gia Gaspard Taylor, Caribbean Civil Society representative, agreed that, in order to affirm high-level support and direct top-level policies for gender equality and human rights, there was an urgent need for women to be given the opportunity to interact with Heads of Government and for the Commonwealth’s gender equality commitments to move higher up the agenda for Heads of Government.

 

The Maltese Government, in recognition of the need to raise awareness on such matters, proposed the organisation of a Women’s Forum as a fourth forum (alongside the Business, Youth and People’s Forums) to be set-up ahead of the Heads of Government meeting itself.

Her Excellency, the President of Malta will be opening the Forum, which will be attended by leaders, businesswomen, first ladies and role models from more than fifty countries. Various topics will be up for discussion, including an outlook on women’s empowerment and leadership, education, entrepreneurship, media and ICT.

‘We heartily welcome the participation of Mrs. Rowley at this historic conference, says Ms Hazel Brown,  who is part of a four member delegation of the Network of NGOs of Trinidad and Tobago attending the Women’s Forum. The Trinidad and Tobago women wlll share work done on increasing women’s participation in Political decision making as well as the work of the Hindu Women’s organization in relation to child marriage and an exhibition of the Rural Women’s Network Mango Festival.

After tackling all the themes in the course of the programme, the aim is to come up with a communiqué with agreed targets and strategies to be presented to Ministers of Foreign Affairs ahead of the Heads of Governments meeting. This communiqué is intended to highlight the importance and place women’s participation at all levels of decision-making and in all sectors of the Commonwealth’s agenda.

 

Certainly, the intention is for the Commonwealth Women’s Forum to become a permanent fixture in CHOGM programmes. It should be the focal point for discussions of women’s contributions in societies and a driver for furthering gender equality within the Commonwealth and beyond. We will continue to push for this until the time comes when women’s equality has been achieved, becoming a non-issue and thus not warranting discussion. 

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