Commonwealth Calls Gender Inequality “Greatest Hindrance” To Development

Commonwealth Ministers of women Affairs met in Apia, the capital of Samoa
Commonwealth Ministers of women Affairs met in Apia, the capital of Samoa

The Commonwealth has identified gender inequality as one of the major hindrances to development in Africa.

The Commonwealth secretariat said this in a press release following its Women Affairs Ministerial Meeting in Apia, Samoa.

According to the statement, the under-representation of women and increasing gender inequalities must be reversed if sustainable development goals are to be met.

Patricia Scotland, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth said: “An increased empowerment and inclusion of women is not just about fairness, it’s about huge economic opportunity that is otherwise simply missed.

She said this during the Commonwealth 11th triennial meeting of mostly female leaders and campaigners from around the commonwealth member-nations.

The meeting had climate change as its standalone priority but also highlighted the inclusion of women in adaptation interventions as key to success.

“Climate change most severely threatens the poor of this planet, the majority of whom are women.  Yet, exclusion and marginalisation prevent women from participating in tackling such an important issue,” Scotland said.

Experts say Climate change poses life-threatening risk to everyone on the planet, and is of particular threat to small island states such as the host Pacific island of Samoa.

A UNDP report estimates the cost of mitigating the effects of climate change to be between $249 billion to $1,371 billion annually by 2030.

Sustainable Development Goals, SDG, number 13, set targets for effective climate-change planning in least developed and developing states that focus on women, children and marginalised communities.






     

     

    Mariama Williams, Senior Programme Officer at the intergovernmental organisation South Centre, said: “If we are going to meet SDG 13, climate financing is a priority. It must not exacerbate gender inequalities but instead progress gender equality.”

    She said: “We need to know how much is going to reach women. This needs gender analysis of distribution to ensure it reaches women’s organisations and local projects to build their capacity and become more involved globally.”

    “We know that women die more than men during natural disasters. We know children and pregnant women are more susceptible to vector and water borne diseases. Finance facilities can no longer simply be gender sensitive but must be transformative, gender responsive and inclusive. Gender cannot be secondary, it is crosscutting in mitigation, adaption and policy.”

    The Secretary-General, Scotland corroborated  Williams’ position, adding that: “We must make the connections, economic and social, social and environmental, that will ensure truly lasting development, with no-one left behind. Alone we are invisible, together we are invincible.”

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