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Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP)

The Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP) is the network of women Members of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association’s Parliaments and Legislatures. The CWP network provides a means of building the capacity of women elected to Parliament to be more effective in their roles, improving the awareness and ability of all Parliamentarians, male and female, and encouraging them to include a gender perspective in all aspects of their role - legislation, oversight and representation and helping Parliaments to become gender-sensitive institutions.

CWP Mission

To promote the representation of women in CPA Branches and women's full and equal participation in all political and parliamentary leadership at all levels.
CWP represents over 3,000 women parliamentarians, in over 180 Commonwealth national and sub-national Parliaments, across all 9 Regions of the CPA.

CWP Governance and Structure

Learn more about the CWP and who we are
History of CWP

The first informal meeting of women Parliamentarians was held in 1989 at the 35th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference held in Barbados, initiated by Senator Norma Cox Astwood (Bermuda). For the first year, and for the part of the second year, Senator Cox Astwood acted as Co-ordinator for the women’s caucus.

In 1996, the group of women Parliamentarians within the CPA came into formal recognition as the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP) under a series of appointed CWP Chairpersons between 1996 and 2004 when the first CWP Chairperson was elected.

In 1997 during the 43rd Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference in Mauritius, the word ‘gender’ was for the first time included in the preamble of the Constitution of the CPA. In 1998, during the 44th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference organised in New Zealand, the name Commonwealth Group was changed into the current name, Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP) as an organ of the Association. Following the amendment of the Constitution of the CPA in 2004, the first Chairperson of CWP was formally elected at the 50th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference in Canada for a three year period (2004-2007).

To read the reflections of former Senator Norma Cox Astwood (Bermuda) in The Parliamentarian click here.
Structure

CWP International Steering Committee
A CWP Steering Committee of 11 Women Members (9 Regional Representatives  representing the CPA Regions, the CWP Chairperson and the CWP President) plan its activities. The CWP  President serves for a term of one year.  Each Regional Representative and the CWP Chairperson  serves for a term of three years. Every year, three members (one third of the Committee) rotates off the Steering Committee and is replaced by three new Members ensuring that there is always a continuity in the the Steering Committee's work.

The current list of CWP Steering Committee Members can be found here

As well as the Steering Committee, the CWP Business Meeting held annually deals with the business of the CWP and takes place before the CPA Annual Conference. It was previously only open to women delegates, observers and clerks, but since the 60th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference in Cameroon, male delegates, observers and clerks were permitted to attend as well. This was supported widely by the CWP as it was agreed that for women to gain ground politically, men had to support them through this process. The most recent CWP Business Meeting was held in August 2022.

CWP Regions

In addition to the CWP international activities, there are regional groups of the CWP with their own steering committees and programmes of activities. For further information on CWP activities within CPA Regions, please refer to the following links:

CWP Chairperson

 

Hon. Dr Zainab Gimba MP, Member of the Federal Parliament of Nigeria
Chairperson of the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP) network (2022 - 2025)

The CWP Chairperson was elected for a three-year term at the CWP Business Meeting at the CWP seventh triennial conference that took place in Halifax, Canada as part of the wider 65th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference in August 2022.

 


Biography

Hon. Zainab Gimba is currently the Chairperson of the CWP Africa Region. She started her public service career as a Lecturer, in the Department of Public Administration, University of Maiduguri, Nigeria in 2002. Before entering Parliament, she had from 2011-2018 served as Commissioner in charge of Poverty Alleviation and Youth Empowerment, Universal Basic Education Board and Water Resources in Borno, Nigeria. Her public service was rewarded when her people elected her in 2019 to the Nigeria House of Representatives.

She holds a Bachelor of Science Degree and Master of Public Administration from the University of Maiduguri and a PhD in Public Administration and Policy Analysis from the University of Abuja. Hon. Gimba has received many awards and recognitions from professional and Trade Union bodies for her service in community development and empowerment of vulnerable women.

 


Previous Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP) Chairpersons include:
  • Hon. Shandana Gulzar Khan MNA, Member of Parliament, Pakistan (2019-2022)
  • Hon. Dr Dato' Noraini Ahmad MP, Member of the Parliament of Malaysia (2016-2019)
  • Rt Hon. Rebecca Kadaga MP, Speaker of the Parliament of Uganda (2013-2016)
  • Hon. Alix Boyd Knights MHA, Speaker Emerita of the House of Assembly of Dominica (2010-2013)
  • Ms Kashmala Tariq MNA, Member of the National Assembly of Pakistan (2007-2010)
  • Hon. Lindiwe Maseko MP, former Speaker of the Provincial Legislature of Gauteng (2004-2007)

CWP Programmes

Learn more about the CWP projects, activities and events

CWP Workshop: Champions for Gender Equality

The Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP) network hosted a Workshop on Champions for Gender Equality, in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, from 6 to 8 December 2023.

This three-day workshop was designed to equip male and female Members of Parliament with skills and resources to take action on gender equality to strengthen their roles as gender champions in their respective Parliaments.

Find out more

CWP Regional Strengthening Funds

The CWP Regional Strengthening Fund is an annual grant made available to each of the CPA’s nine Regions to advance the CWP’s mission to ‘promote the representation of women in CPA Branches and women's full and equal participation in political and parliamentary leadership at all levels.'

Each CPA Region can bid for £10,000 to provide assistance in their efforts to undertake projects and events which align with the CWP's mission.

Find out more and apply

Gender Sensitive Parliaments in the 21st century

The Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP) network is an active advocate for women's representation in Parliament, seeking to ensure Parliaments are gender-sensitive institutions.

The CWP network has produced two complementary publications to help Parliaments through the gender-sensitisation process:

  • CWP Gender Sensitising Parliaments Guidelines: Standards and a Checklist for Parliamentary Change
  • CWP Gender-Sensitising Parliaments: A Seven-Step Field Guide
CWP Gender Sensitising Parliaments

International Women's Day

International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The day, first celebrated in 1911, marks a call to action for accelerating women's equality.

International Women's Day 2024

Triennial CWP Conference

Held every three years, the Conference, delivered on the margins of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference is one of the largest gatherings of women parliamentarians from the Commonwealth. 

The most recent CWP Conference was held in August 2022 in Halifax, Canada under the theme of ‘#BreaktheBias: Gender Equality Today for a Sustainable Tomorrow’.

Revisit the 2022 CWP Conference

CWP Resources

Browse CPA and Commonwealth publications

Blog | How to start a women's parliamentary caucus in 5 stages

Five key steps to follow to establish a successful women’s parliamentary caucus.
Read the blog

Q & A | Grenada Women's Parliamentary Caucus

Glynis Roberts, Vice-President of the Grenada Women's Parliamentary Caucus, offers an insight the history, vision, and activities of the Caucus.
Read the blog

The CPA and the Belize Women's Parliamentary Caucus

Hon. Tracy Ann Panton reflects on the CPA's Women Parliamentarians' Roundtable and with the National Assembly of Belize
Read the blog

Download our resources

CWP Network Information Leaflet

The leaflet provides information on how the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP) network is organised and the activities and programmes it provides for Members.

CWP Gender Mainstreaming Leaflet

This information sheet explains gender mainstreaming and approaches to practical application within Parliamentary institutions. 

CWP Gender-Sensitising Parliaments: A Seven-Step Field Guide

This Field Guide complements the 'CWP Gender Sensitising Parliaments Guidelines', providing a blueprint for Parliaments interested in undertaking a gender sensitive review and making their institution more inclusive and representative.

CWP Gender Sensitising Parliaments Guidelines: Standards and a Checklist for Parliamentary Change

These guidelines have been created to help Commonwealth Parliaments to become gender sensitive institutions, providing legislatures with an outline of gender sensitising standards that they can look to achieve. 

CWP Anti-Harassment Policy Guidelines: A Toolkit for Commonwealth Parliaments

The CWP Anti-Harassment Policy Guidelines support Parliaments across the Commonwealth in the effort to both address and remove all traces of harassment across parliamentary workplaces.

Policy learning, parliamentary diplomacy and gender equality: a CWP research project

This dissertation, written by CWP Co-ordinator Bénite Dibateza, studies the extent to which policy learning as a parliamentary diplomacy activity to achieve gender equality is important for women parliamentarians engaged in the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians network.

2022 CWP Workshop: Gender Equality Statement

A statement written by Commonwealth women and male Parliamentarians on 7 December 2022 at the CWP 'Champions for Gender Equality’ workshop held in Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia.

Related Videos

Use the 'Playlist' button (in-player, top right) to browse our webinars, masterclasses & more...

CWP News

CWP Chair highlights gender-sensitive Parliaments at 68th CSW
News

CWP Chair highlights gender-sensitive Parliaments at 68th CSW

The 68th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW68) took place in New York with delegates from all over the world.

CWP Equality Champions Workshop in Tanzania promotes equal representation in Commonwealth Parliaments
News

CWP Equality Champions Workshop in Tanzania promotes equal representation in Commonwealth Parliaments

Hosted by the Parliament of Tanzania and the CPA Africa Region, the workshop was designed to equip male and female Members of Parliament with skills and resources to take action on gender equality.

Botswana undertakes first ever joint CPA Benchmarks and Gender Sensitive Parliament (GSP) self-assessment
News

Botswana undertakes first ever joint CPA Benchmarks and Gender Sensitive Parliament (GSP) self-assessment

A delegation from the CPA Headquarters visited Gaborone from 20 to 24 November to support the first ever joint self-assessment undertaken by a Parliament.

Gender equality and representation in Parliaments at 66th CPC in Ghana
News

Gender equality and representation in Parliaments at 66th CPC in Ghana

Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians aim to further gender equality and equal representation in Parliaments at 66th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference in Ghana

Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians Chairperson speaks about gender equality in Parliaments
News

Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians Chairperson speaks about gender equality in Parliaments

Hon. Zainab Gimba attended the 13th Commonwealth Women's Affairs Ministers Meeting in Nassau, The Bahamas, from 21 to 23 August 2023.

Women political leaders aim for gender equality in the Caribbean Region
News

Women political leaders aim for gender equality in the Caribbean Region

Importance of women’s engagement in parliamentary leadership underscored at CWP Regional Seminar in Jamaica

Meet the CPA Headquarters team

Contact us if you'd like to know more about the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP)
James Pinnell
Deputy Head of Programmes - Multilateral Engagement
CPA Headquarters Secretariat programmes@cpahq.org
Bénite Dibateza
Programmes Manager - CWP Coordinator
CPA Headquarters Secretariat programmes@cpahq.org

 

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