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Make this ‘decade of gender equality’ said Commonwealth chief


New Delhi: On the International Women’s Day, Commonwealth Secretary General Patricia Scotland on Sunday stressed on gender equality and education of girls to urge all 53 member-countries, including India, to make this ‘the decade of gender equality’.

Despite decades of activism and reforms, only six countries in the world have given women and men equal rights to work — an increase from none about 10 years ago.

Scotland said: “Our Commonwealth Charter speaks of gender equality and women’s empowerment as being essential components of human development and basic human rights.

“Advancing women’s rights, the education of girls and their participation in the workforce are critical prerequisites for effective and sustainable development,” she said in a statement.

“For instance, on an average, for every £1 invested in business, those with all-male boards show a loss of two per cent, while those with two or more women yield a return of six per cent.

“But many countries need help to make it happen. So today, we are consulting on a toolkit that will support country-level efforts with training programmes and campaigns to accelerate gender equality.”

She declared March 2020 as Commonwealth Gender Equality Month’ to “sharpen the focus on the need to accelerate the rate at which action is taken by our member-nations to achieve gender equality”.

Ahead of the International Women’s Day, the Secretary General joined a gathering of leaders, celebrities, academics and activists in London to discuss ways to accelerate the progress.

Delegates watched a new film that follows Livia Firth, co-founder of Eco-Age, to Botswana.

In the film, she listens to women who have improved their living standards by working in Botswana’s diamond industry.

On the occasion, an expert panel discussed how diamonds have contributed to the sustainable development of Botswana uplifting communities and protecting the environment.

The panel presented a list of progressive practices that had helped close the gender gap in the Botswana workforce. These include engaging women in the development sector, investing equally in women and men, and getting women into male-dominated industries.

The Secretary-General launched a toolkit, developed in partnership with the NO MORE Foundation, that will help implement the sustainable development goal five for gender equality.

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