Source:  The New Times

Rwanda, along with other Commonwealth nations, has made a commitment to follow a comprehensive roadmap aimed at bolstering collective efforts to achieve gender equality and empower women and girls, particularly in the context of climate action.

This commitment was formalized during a gathering of Women's Affairs Ministers from Commonwealth member countries, convened in Nassau, Bahamas, from August 21 to 23, 2023.

Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland underscored the importance of this roadmap, highlighting the disproportionate challenges faced by millions of women and girls in terms of injustice, climate change, violence, and discrimination.

Scotland emphasized that the outcomes of this meeting send a powerful message: the Commonwealth is steadfast in its determination to set a precedent, ensuring that women and girls are not left behind in the pursuit of sustainable development and climate justice.

"What we have accomplished here today will enable us all to deliver today and shape a brighter tomorrow for the 2.5 billion people living in our Commonwealth," she declared.

Throughout the Commonwealth meeting, ministers engaged in three days of intensive discussions. Among the key outcomes was a commitment from Women's Affairs Ministers to bolster efforts to combat inequality across various critical areas within the Commonwealth in the coming years.

"The specific provisions encompass several key aspects to promote gender equality within the context of climate finance and support for women. These include an amplified role for women in climate finance, heightened assistance for women with disabilities, expanded economic opportunities for women, improved representation in decision-making processes, and enhanced protections against gender-based violence," noted part of the official statement.

Obediah Wilchcombe, the Minister of Social Services and Urban Development of The Bahamas, who chaired the meeting, expressed his profound appreciation for the substantive outcomes. He emphasized the importance of adhering to the roadmap to effect meaningful change in the years ahead, saying, "It would not make sense to return three years from now discussing the same old issues. What we want is to make a genuine difference. This meeting has elevated us to a higher level and set us on a faster track to follow this roadmap."

Leaders at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Samoa next year are expected to consider this roadmap.

Ministers have also endorsed a framework for reporting on Commonwealth priorities for gender equality to facilitate the implementation of the roadmap.

"The Commonwealth Secretariat will utilize this framework for ongoing assessments of progress using predefined indicators. It will also coordinate essential measures through a ministerial action group with the goal of addressing challenges that are impeding the current positive momentum," stated the Commonwealth Secretariat.

Recognizing the disproportionate impact of climate change on women and girls, ministers shared best practices that have supported women and girls in overcoming these challenges in their respective countries.

Ministers and senior officials further urged the Commonwealth to champion an inclusive 'Loss and Damage Fund' that equitably supports the needs of women and girls. They also stressed the importance of collecting and analyzing sex-disaggregated data to formulate evidence-based solutions and enhance the precision of targeted interventions.

During the same meeting, ministers welcomed the launch of Scotland's 'For the Women in my Life' campaign, which will recognize the importance of engaging men and boys in preventing and combating gender-based violence.

"The campaign, to be rolled out across the Commonwealth, will adopt a culturally sensitive approach to involving men and boys as active allies in addressing violence against women and girls," reads part of the official statement.

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