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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

Recognising the need of increasing women’s representation in political institutions, the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP) was founded by women delegates at the 1989 plenary CPA conference so women at future conferences could discuss ways to increase female representation in Parliament and work towards the mainstreaming of gender considerations in all CPA activities and programmes.

In 2004, the group was formally recognised in the CPA Constitution and its elected Chairperson became part of the CPA Executive Committee.


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

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

The Chairperson of the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP) is Hon. Shandana Gulzar Khan, MNA of the National Assembly of Pakistan.

The CWP Chairperson was elected for a three-year term at the CWP Business Meeting at the CWP sixth triennial conference that took place in Kampala, Uganda as part of the wider 64th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference in September 2019.


The CWP Chairperson, Hon. Shandana Gulzar Khan, MNA pledged to renew the effort to increase women’s representation and political participation in Parliaments across the Commonwealth. Hon. Shandana Gulzar Khan, MNA is a  qualified legal professional with extensive knowledge and experience in international trade and economic law advocacy and an articulate communicator, fluent in three languages, she was elected to the National Assembly in August 2018. As an activist, she has worked on economic rehabilitation of abandoned post-incarceration females and providing opportunities for their families; developing training and legislation for female lawyers; as well as advising NGOs to better understand societal problems. She has authored various articles on a number of issues, including the creation of Pakistan’s first IP strategic framework, the industrial policy vacuum and has conducted many training seminars on various aspects of international trade policy and development.

Previous Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP) Chairpersons include:

  • 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 Strategic Plan 2020-2022

Latest Issue:

CWP Strategic Plan 2020-2022:

The CWP Strategic Plan 2020-2022 sets out the network's mission statement, outcomes and thematic priorities.

CWP Programmes

Learn more about the CWP projects, activities and events
CWP Regional Strengthening Funds

The CPA supports the work of the CWP with its Regional Strengthening Fund. A grant of GBP £10,000 is allocated to each of the nine CPA regions. The fund provides assistance for regions to undertake projects and events which align with the CWP's strategic objectives.

Some recent activities delivered with the support of the fund include:


CWP Africa Region
Between the 17-18 December 2020, the CWP Africa Region in partnership with the CPA Nigeria Branch delivered a Sensitisation Virtual Workshop. Hosted by the CWP Vice-Chairperson, Hon. Dr Zainab Gimba MP, the Workshop covered a variety of topics related to the impact of COVID-19 on women’s socio-economic wellbeing and women’s participation and leadership in decision-making.


CWP British British Islands and Mediterranean Region 
Between the 17-21 February 2020, The CWP British British Islands and Mediterranean Canadian Region held its Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians Conference. Hosted by the CPA Falkland Islands Branch, the Conference covered a wider range of topics related to the Conference theme 'Combatting Stereotypes in Small Communities' such as the importance of building roles in Small Communities, creating opportunities for women in the future in Small Communities, encouraging women to stand for public office and, mentoring women in Parliament.


CWP Canadian Region
The CWP Canadian Region, in partnership with the British Columbia Legislative Assembly applied for the Strengthening Funds to engage a political scientist to undertake key planning toward conducting a gender sensitivity audit. The audit would serve as a case study of Canadian jurisdictions. The Funds were used to develop a detailed project scope, methodology and project plan and result in a first interim report which was published in December 2020.

Gender Sensitive Parliaments in the 21st century

The CWP is an active advocate, seeking to ensure parliaments are gender-sensitive institutions. In 2020, the CWP published a new set of guidelines titled CWP Gender Sensitising Parliaments Guidelines: Standards and a Checklist for Parliamentary Change to highlight the importance of gender sensitising across all parliaments in the Commonwealth. This work sought to update the previous work developed by the CPA in 2001. The CPA worked with Prof. Sarah Childs, a leading expert in this field in developing this updated resource.

Throughout 2021, the CWP will build on its recently published Guidelines on Gender-Sensitising Commonwealth Parliaments by delivering its 'Gender Sensitive Parliaments in the 21st century Project'. This project will commence in early 2021 through the roll-out of nine regional roundtables. Each roundtable will be an opportunity to introduce Parliamentarians (of all genders) to the Guidelines. This will be a prelude to supporting Parliaments across the Commonwealth in conducting self-assessment reviews as well as supporting individual Parliaments in implementing follow-up recommendations.

Since January 2021, the CWP have held roundtables in:

  • Pacific Region - 25 January 2021
  • Africa Region - 17 February 2021 - click here
  • Asia Region - 17 March 2021 - click here
  • South-East Asia Region - 29 April 2021 - click here
  • Australia Region - 27 May 2021 - click here
CWP Alumni Initiative

A CWP Alumni Initiative was launched by the CPA Headquarters Secretariat with the objective of providing a framework for former women Parliamentarians to deliver mentoring, coaching and advice to the benefit of sitting women Parliamentarians and to act as a resource for the CPA.

Dr Lesley Clark, a former Member of the Legislative Assembly of Queensland in Australia has been nominated to the position of CWP Alumni Champion and she will act as an Ambassador for the CWP Alumni Initiative and will share her experience and expertise across the CPA and CWP’s membership. Dr Lesley Clark was Member of Parliament from 1989 to 1995 and again from 1998 to 2006. Like many Members of Parliament, she was involved with local politics before entering Parliament, serving as a member of the Mulgrave Shire Council. During her parliamentary career, she held many positions and served on numerous Parliamentary Committees, giving her a wealth of experience. Since retiring from Parliament, she has held the position of the Director of Equity and Diversity at James Cook University in Queensland and now works as a consultant in international development to increase women’s parliamentary representation.


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.

Every year the CWP celebrate the day in a variety of ways, but always with the focus of promoting the interests of women and girls. In 2021, Women Parliamentarians from across the Commonwealth mobilised behind the #ChoosetoChallenge slogan. Members joined the global campaign to challenge gender bias and inequality, to celebrate women’s achievements and to help create an inclusive world.

In celebration of International Women’s Day, the CWP Chairperson, Hon. Shandana Gulzar Khan, MNA (Pakistan) has published a #ChoosetoChallenge video message. To watch the message click here or view below.

The CWP network has released a series of short videos online and on social media, offering an insight into the life of women Parliamentarians and their efforts to facilitate the empowerment of women at every level of society. Women MPs featured from CPA Nigeria; Pakistan; St. Lucia; Ontario; India; Cook Islands and Malaysia.

Triennial Conference of Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians

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 September 2019 in Kampala, Uganda under the theme of ‘CWP at 30 years: Achievements and Unfinished Business – Looking forward to the next 30 years’ in recognition of the CWP’s 30th anniversary in 2019. For a report of the CWP Conference please click here.

The next Conference is due to be held in Halifax, Canada in August 2022.

As well as the Conference, 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 September 2019.

Related Resources

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.

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
Bénite Dibateza
Programmes Manager - CWP Coordinator
CPA Headquarters Secretariat


Connect with the CWP or keep up to date on our work


Related CWP News

Women Parliamentarians from India join first of two CWP virtual roundtables on gender sensitive Parliaments for the India Region

Women Parliamentarians from India join first of two CWP virtual roundtables on gender sensitive Parliaments for the India Region

Women Parliamentarians network launches its updated CWP Gender Sensitising Parliaments Guidelines

Women Parliamentarians network launches its updated CWP Gender Sensitising Parliaments Guidelines

Combatting harassment in Parliaments - CWP publishes Anti-Harassment Policy Guidelines

Combatting harassment in Parliaments - CWP publishes Anti-Harassment Policy Guidelines

Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians Launches Strategic Plan 2020-2022

Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians Launches Strategic Plan 2020-2022