Commonwealth women’s affairs ministers meeting opens with calls for stronger action on gender equality

The Opening Ceremony of the 13th Commonwealth Women’s Affairs Ministers Meeting hosted by The Bahamas was held at Atlantis, Paradise Island, on Monday, August 21, 2023. Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Philip Davis brought pertinent remarks about the need to empower women in society. Also attending the Opening were Secretary-General to the Commonwealth of Nations the Rt. Hon. Patricia Scotland, KC, and Spouse of the Prime Minister, Mrs. Ann-Marie Davis. (BIS Photos/Patrick Hanna)

Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Philip Davis said only when more is done to protect and empower women in societies, will communities and societies achieve their full potential.“As we work toward our promise to bring a ‘New Day’ to The Bahamas, my administration relies on a diverse team with broad expertise and varied backgrounds, inclusive of women occupying key positions in the Cabinet and throughout the government,” the Prime Minister said during the Opening Ceremony of the 13th Commonwealth Women’s Affairs Ministers Meeting hosted by The Bahamas at the Atlantis Paradise Island Resort on Monday, August 21, 2023.He said while the administration acknowledges this progress, it still wants to see more political and government participation, and knows that achieving this requires active leadership and thoughtful policies.“We also know that despite the great strides which have been made by women in the workplace, women can occupy more of the top spots in our private sector corporate structures. All of our children should have an expectation that their hard work, excellence, and achievements will be evaluated fairly.”The Prime Minister added that one element to driving progress means doing more to make sure entrepreneurs have access to the capital and technical support necessary to bring their entrepreneurial dreams into fruition.

“It’s time to demolish the walls of the old boys’ clubs – only when opportunities are opened up more widely will we truly be making the most of the talent and ingenuity of all of humanity. The world has a lot of urgent problems to solve – we need all hands on deck.”He said it is a terrible and tragic reality that many women are not able to fully dedicate themselves to developing their talents and careers because they suffer from violence.“My administration has sought to address the social and systemic factors contributing to violence against women and girls through increased funding to construct a new women’s shelter and to provide legal aid for survivors of domestic violence through social services and the Office of the Judiciary. We have also made meaningful progress in protecting survivors of domestic abuse and sexual violence through the recently passed Protection Against Violence Act, which establishes and protects the rights of victims, allows for the allocation of more resources, and focuses on sensitization and training within the police force and other organizations that work directly with survivors.”Prime Minister Davis said the levels of violence against women and girls remain unacceptable.

“We can’t stop working on this issue until women are safe everywhere – whether they are walking alone at night, in their workplaces and schools, or at home with loved ones.“As we address these pressing issues, we must also be more inclusive of women living with disabilities to ensure that every woman feels empowered, protected, and included in our plans.”He explained that many who live in coastal areas and small island developing states will bear the worst of the impacts of climate change. This is especially true for lower-income families who lack the resources to relocate or adequately prepare for the severe storms and flooding associated with rising global temperatures.The Prime Minister said it is so critical that the government constantly evaluates how different issues affect members of the population differently, and make sure it is designing policies that are effective for all.He said, “The time is now for our Commonwealth community to be unabashedly ambitious in our goals and plans. We need more than slogans – we need commitments.“Let us maximize the opportunity before us to exchange ideas, learn from one another, and lay the foundation for more effective policy solutions.

WAMM provides an ideal platform through which we can have the conversations that can change the world.”Prime Minister Davis explained that the discussions and resolutions that emerge will pave the path for the agenda for the upcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Samoa. “Your work can be the catalyst for much-needed momentum toward a better, more just world for everyone.”In attendance at the high-level meeting are: Secretary-General to the Commonwealth of Nations the Rt. Hon. Patricia Scotland, KC, and Ministers, Senior Government Officials, civil society, private sector, and partner agencies from across the Commonwealth.  They will discuss and agree upon practical strategies and solutions for gender disparities.The Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development heads the meeting with the Minister of State in the Ministry, the Hon. Lisa Rahming serving as the head of delegation.A high-level side event was hosted by the Spouse of the Prime Minister, Mrs. Ann-Marie Davis.

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