Our work affects every man and woman, and girl and boy of the Commonwealth. Whether working in a government ministry, a teacher in an urban area, or a rural artisan, gender and gender equality impacts us all.
Major social, economic and political changes, particularly in relation to conflict, globalisation, poverty and HIV/AIDS, have vital implications for women and men. For example, conflicts in Commonwealth countries are increasing in number and are steadily worsening in their impact on the lives of civilians, with clear and disturbing gender aspects (e.g. abduction of girls, child soldiers, and refugees and internally displaced persons).
One-third of the estimated 1.2 billion people in the world living on less than US$1 a day are Commonwealth citizens. Over two-thirds of these are women. Of the 40 million people living with HIV/AIDS, 60 per cent are Commonwealth citizens, and nine of the most affected countries are Commonwealth member states. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that women account for more than half of all newly infected adults and, worldwide, 15.7 million women are living with HIV.
In responding to these development concerns, our work often involves training and providing technical assistance to government ministries to help them mainstream gender in their work, or working directly with key stakeholders e.g. teachers in class rooms across the Commonwealth, to tackle gender stereotyping in schools.
Working in partnership with others is fundamental to the success of our work and our impact. We work in collaboration with a variety of stakeholders from international organisations, such as the United Nations Development Programme and the United Nations Population Fund, to regional organisations such as the African Union, and Caribbean Community (CARICOM), bilateral partners such as the Cultural Industries Development Agency and UK’s Department for International Development and civil society organisations.
A number of our initiatives have been taken on board by other agencies. For example, we are one of the main pioneers of global gender responsive budgeting. It has shaped concepts, developed methodologies and toolkits and has released publications on gender responsive budgeting that are being used to carry the initiative forward.
We also bring Commonwealth National Women’s Machineries and other partners together to share good practices in the areas of democracy, the law and the economy, as well as promote the mainstreaming of gender into different sectors and government ministries.
We have undertaken pioneering work with governments to ensure that their budgets are gender sensitive. This programme has promoted the use of the national budget as an instrument for ensuring that all sector programmes benefit women and girls, and men and boys equally.
Our work also involves collaborating with regional organisations and academic institutions with a focus on specific gender issues and sharing lessons across regions and the Commonwealth.
Best practices have also been shared in new areas through our gender mainstreaming series of publications.