Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians Chairperson promotes gender equality on visits to South Africa, Iceland and the UK 

The newly elected Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP) Chairperson, Hon. Shandana Gulzar Khan, MNA (Pakistan) has been promoting gender equality and the CWP’s activities and initiatives on a series of visits that has taken her to three different countries.

The CWP Chairperson first visited Western Cape in South Africa to participate in a programme of events convened to re-establish their Parliament’s commitment to the values of the CWP. The events were held over the course of four days from 11 to 14 November 2019. 

The CWP Chairperson met with the Speaker of the Western Cape Provincial Parliament, Hon. Masizole Mnqasela, MPP and the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Beverley Ann Schäfer, MPP to discuss their commitment to increase gender equality. In Cape Town, the CWP Chairperson also visited a women’s community projects in the constituency of the Deputy Speaker. The CWP Chairperson said: “I am delighted to have been invited to attend the re-establishment of the CWP Chapter in Western Cape. To take the decision to re-energise CWP activities is one that I find admirable and very crucial, and I hope that fellow CWP Branches across the Commonwealth may be inspired by this. I would like to thank the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Beverley Ann Schäfer and her team for their warm reception and incredible hospitality and no doubt, I will leave feeling very optimistic about the future of CWP in Western Cape and this part of Southern Africa.” 

The CWP Chairperson then travelled to attend the Global Forum for Women Leaders in Reykjavik, Iceland from 18 to 20 November 2019. This international forum brings together the world’s most inspiring and committed leaders to share ideas and solutions on how to promote the number of women in leadership positions, how to further advance society and how to make the most of the possibilities that these opportunities offer.

The CWP Chairperson spoke in the session titled ‘How can “#girlsgetequal”: Gender Transformative Power and Representation’  and took the opportunity to express that “when looking at official development assistance (ODA), the focus needs to shift to women’s economic empowerment initiatives, particularly when this education, skill set or initiative provides substantive access to a livelihood, and if so, ODA will show results for girls and women.” 

The theme of women’s economic empowerment continued throughout the week, notably during a panel discussion on ‘Is Digital a Yellow Click Road to a New Business Oz’ where the CWP Chairperson expressed her desire to see “the implementation of digital financial inclusion as a common policy to support women entrepreneurs across the Commonwealth.”  To view this panel discussion please see video below:

The CWP Chairperson was also invited to attend the second High Level Roundtable ’Power Together: Reykjavík Summit 2019’ which was held in line with the Women Leaders: Power Together Declaration 2018 and the imminent 20th anniversary of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security in 2020. The Landmark Resolution acknowledged the disproportionate and unique impact of armed conflict on women and girls and was unanimously adopted by the UN Security Council on 31 October 2000.  

The Roundtable was held at Höfði House and saw attendees discuss opportunities for claiming a seat for women at the negotiation table for peace and security, closing the data gap and securing the implementation of the Women, Peace and Security National Action Plans. Notable women leaders attending the Roundtable included: Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, former President of Mauritius; Catherine Gotani Hara, President of the Parliament of Malawi; Julia Gillard, former Prime Minister of Australia; Laura Liswood, Secretary-General of the Council of Women World Leaders; Paula Cox, former Premier of Bermuda; Shireen Mehrunnisa Mazari, Minister of Human Rights (Pakistan); and Silvana Koch-Mehrin, President and Founder WPL.

The CWP Chairperson gave her reflections on the Global Forum Women Leaders Forum in Reykjavík, Iceland – to see the video please click here or see below:

Following the forum in Iceland, the CWP Chairperson visited the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) Headquarters Secretariat in London, United Kingdom where she met with the Acting CPA Secretary-General, Mr Jarvis Matiya to discuss future CWP activities and her role as Chairperson of the CWP network.

Ahead of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (Monday 25 November) the CWP Chairperson met with the Head of the Gender Unit at the Commonwealth Secretariat, Amelia Kinahoi Siamomua to discuss issues of mutual cooperation and promoting gender equality in the Commonwealth. The CWP Chairperson also heard about the Commonwealth Secretariat’s new campaign in partnership with No More, ‘Commonwealth Says No More’, a sixteen day effort to eliminate abuse against women due to start on 25 November. 

The CWP Chairperson sent a message to the launch of ‘Commonwealth Says No More’ in which she described all violence as ’abhorrent’ and further stated that “in this regard, I’m proud to state that the CWP has played an active role in raising international awareness on gender-based violence, in particular in the political process. This was also discussed as an issue recently in Arusha at the CWP Africa Regional Workshop as well as at the 64th CPC in Uganda. The CWP continues to highlight this critical issue that impacts the lives and well-being of half of the world’s population.” 

Reflecting on her recent visits as CWP Chairperson thus far, Hon. Shandana Gulzar Khan said: “The CWP is here to give women Parliamentarians of the Commonwealth a voice. There is no guarantee it will be heard until the leadership in our individual countries listen and act. We need to become those leaders.”


Updated 2 December 2019/CPAHQ.

The Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP) was founded in 1989 to increase the number of female elected representatives in Parliaments and legislatures across the Commonwealth and to ensure that women’s issues are brought to the fore in parliamentary debate and legislation. The network campaigns for gender equality in all spheres. 

The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association connects, develops, promotes and supports Parliamentarians and their staff to identify benchmarks of good governance and the implementation of the enduring values of the Commonwealth. The CPA is an international community of around 180 Commonwealth Parliaments and Legislatures working together to deepen the Commonwealth’s commitment to the highest standards of democratic governance. 
For further information about the CPA, please contact:

Commonwealth Parliamentary Association
CPA Headquarters Secretariat,  
Richmond House,
Houses of Parliament,
London SW1A 0AA,
United Kingdom

T: +44 (0)20 7799 1460
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