67th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference
66th CPC

UN Women side-event: Mapping discriminatory laws across the Commonwealth

About the side-event

Mapping discriminatory laws across the Commonwealth

Date: 2 October 2023

Location: Accra, Ghana, at the 66th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference

In the margins of the 66th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference, CPA and UN Women will co-host a side event to increase support and capacity for action to achieve gender-responsive legislation and advance state commitments around global goals pertaining to gender equality.

The event will seek to sensitise women Parliamentarians about trends in discriminatory laws, recent successful reforms and how they were achieved.

The side-event is restricted to women and male delegates who have registered to attend the 66th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference in Accra, Ghana.



Gender equality is a basic human right that, if fulfilled, can result in enormous socio-economic benefits to all societies. Empowering women drives economic growth and curbs social inequalities and poverty. Yet gender inequalities remain in every society. Women lack access to decent work and face occupational segregation and gender wage gaps. They are too often denied access to basic education and health care.

Women in all parts of the world suffer violence and discrimination. They are under-represented in political and economic decision-making processes.

Legal and policy reforms can address these gaps. 'Equality in Law for Women and Girls by 2030: A Multi- stakeholder Strategy for Accelerated Action' was launched by a multi stakeholder group led by UN Women in 2019 to fast track the repeal of such inequalities, which deny women and girls equal rights, betray their trust in society and signal that gender discrimination is acceptable.

Among the steering committee members overseeing its implementation is the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) through its Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP) network, an organisation that believes that vital structured engagement with legislators enhances and strengthens efforts to address legislation, deepens public debate and enhances accountability in the movement towards greater gender equality and equity.

This event will convene Commonwealth Parliamentarians and experts for a discussion on key highlights from legal assessments across the Commonwealth, concrete actions that have been taken and the elements of successful reform efforts. 

Who will be speaking at this event?

Hon. Patricia Appiagyei, MP, Parliament of Ghana & CWP President - Session Moderator

Hon. Patricia Appiagyei is an experienced Ghanaian female politician and Member of the Parliament of Ghana. Her career experience covers thirty-nine (39) years of playing key leadership and political roles including Deputy Minister for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Member of Parliament for the Asokwa Constituency and first female Mayor of Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly. She is currently the chairperson of Government Assurance Committee and a member of the Lands and Natural Resources and Special Budget Committees of the Parliament of Ghana. Hon. Appiagyei holds a Bachelor Degree in Social Science (Economics/Law) and Postgraduate Diploma (Development Economics). She has participated in several international training programmes in leadership, good governance, gender and human rights.
She is a keen advocate of the rights of women including affirmative action. Honourable Appiagyei is a Nobel Peace Prize Winner (West Africa Nobles Forum, 2006), and a recipient of the Star of the Volta in 2008.

Hon. Donatille Mukabalisa, Speaker of the Parliament of Rwanda

Born in July 1960, Honorable Mukabalisa Donatille, is the current Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies of the Parliament of Rwanda. She is a holder of a bachelor’s degree in Law. She is married with three children.

She has a great experience in political affairs. She also worked in the private sector as well as in the United Nations system.

Since 1981 to 1998, she worked for the United Nations Development Program in Kigali in various positions. Before joining Parliamentary activities in 2000, she was an independent Consultant in projects’ management. Since July 2000, she was a Member of the Rwanda National Transitional Assembly and Deputy Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Economy and Trade up to 2003.

In 2003 there were general parliamentary elections and she was elected Member of the Chamber of Deputies on the list of the Liberal Party and was elected Deputy Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Political Affairs and Gender. Since October 2011, she was a Senator (Upper Chamber) and she was elected by senators as Deputy Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Political Affairs and Good Governance.

After two years in the Senate, on 4th October 2013 she was elected Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies/Parliament of Rwanda. Hon. Mukabalisa Donatille is also the Chairperson of the Liberal Party.

Ms. Marsha Caddle, MP, House of Assembly of Barbados

Marsha Caddle is a Barbadian economist, public policy strategist and President and Chief Economist of the Bold Centre, a global advisory helping institutions, governments and firms design and execute transformational, development initiatives. As Minister of Economic Affairs and Investment in Barbados from 2018-2022, she helped lead Barbados’ 2018 macro-fiscal recovery, and also led Barbados’ delegation to the COP26 climate summit where she was lead Finance negotiator for the Alliance of Small Island States. Her areas of work are climate finance and sustainable development; poverty, inequality and human development; public investment, growth and competitiveness; financing for development; physical planning; and data and national statistics. She has worked at the Caribbean Development Bank, led the Poverty and Economic Security practice with the UNDP Caribbean Office, and the Economic Security and Rights programme of the then UNIFEM Caribbean Office. She is a pioneer economist in applying gender and macroeconomic policy frameworks to public finance, and is a member of the International Association for Feminist Economics (IAFFE) and the International Working Group on Gender, Macroeconomics and International Economics (GEM-IWG). Her work experience spans over 20 countries and she has written and spoken extensively on matters of equality and economic and climate justice. Marsha Caddle is an elected Member of Parliament in the Barbados House of Assembly.

Dr Beatrice Duncan, Senior Policy Advisor, Rule of Law, UN Women

Beatrice Duncan is the Rule of Law Advisor (Justice and Constitutions) and focal point on indigenous and minority issues at UN women. She began her career in her native country, Ghana, as a gender and child law specialist, initially providing legal aid to indigent women and children through the Ghana Legal Aid Board, the Ghana Federation of International Women Lawyers and Women in Law and Development. While in Ghana, she also served as the Programme Officer for the Structural Adjustment Participatory Review Initiative, a tripartite exercise between government, Civil Society and the World Bank. Within the UN system, her work experience has been with UNICEF Ghana, as the first Chief of Protection, the African Centre for Gender and Social Development of the Economic Commission for Africa, as a Gender Advisor, and UNICEF New York as a Human Rights Programming Specialist. She has supported law reform efforts in the fields of women’s land rights, inheritance, marital property and violence, while also engaging in research and policy development in the areas of women in agriculture, women’s land rights and harmful practices.
At UN Women, she spearheads policy development in gender responsive constitution-making, leveling the law for women and girls and justice and security sector reforms.

Ms. Maureen Shonge, Policy Specialist WPP, UN Women

Maureen Shonge has over 15 years of experience working at the intersection of human rights, women’s peace and security, governance, development and gender. She has extensive experience working on programmes seeking to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment in decision-making and politics. She has worked with various key institutions, including parliaments, on women’s representation and participation in political decision making in East and Southern Africa. Maureen holds a Bachelor of Laws Honors Degree, a Masters in Women’s Law from the Southern & Eastern African Regional Centre for Women’s Law (SEARCWL), University of Zimbabwe in partnership with the Institute for Women’s Law at the University of Oslo, Norway and a master’s in international human rights law from Oxford University.

Ms Amanda Ellis, Executive Director, Asia-Pacific for the Global Institute of Sustainability and Innovation

Former UN Ambassador Amanda Ellis currently serves as Executive Director, Asia-Pacific for the Global Institute of Sustainability and Innovation and Senior Director, Global Partnerships and Networks for the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory at Arizona State University. She is co-chair of the New Carbon Economy Consortium and co-chair of the WE Empower UN SDG Challenge, launched by the UN Secretary General, the President of the World Bank and the Council of Women World Leaders in 2018 to promote inclusive entrepreneurship. Previous roles include New Zealand’s Head of Mission and Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, inaugural Ambassador for Women and Girls and Prime Minister’s Special Envoy to Francophone Africa. Ms Ellis played a key role in New Zealand’s successful UN Security Council bid, subsequently serving as co-chair of the UNSC High Level Working Group on Humanitarian Access into Syria. From 2010-13 as Deputy Secretary International Development and the first woman to head the New Zealand Aid Programme, Ms Ellis was responsible for an annual budget of over $0.6 billion. Prior to this, Ms. Ellis was Lead Specialist in the Poverty Reduction and Economic Management Group at the World Bank Group in Washington D.C., where she managed the World Bank President’s Global Private Sector CEO Leaders Forum and led the Doing Business gender research project which created “Women, Business and the Law.”