NASSAU, The Bahamas — As a precursor to the 13th Commonwealth Women’s Affairs Ministers Meeting (WAMM), Mrs. Ann Marie Davis of the Office of the Spouse of the Prime Minister hosted a high-level forum, August 21, 2023 at Atlantis, under theme “Transformative Leadership for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment.”
Mrs. Ann Marie Davis, wife of the Prime Minister, host and chairperson of the event, said the chosen theme is fitting to the pervasive issues that women all over the world face today.
“This theme supports the fact that we know already, and that is without gender equality, there can be no true progress in any country. Our humanity will never reach its highest peak. As long as a portion of our society is denied human rights,” she said.
Gatherings such as the high-level forum are essential to fostering further transformation and progress in the expanding world, according to Rt. Hon. Baroness Patricia Scotland, KC, Commonwealth Secretary General.
“It’s important, so important, that we gather in this way. But I wish we didn’t have to. I know that this issue is an issue which has been at the forefront of the First Lady’s determination in terms of women. I want to thank her so sincerely for bringing us all together today,” she said.
According to a statistic shared by Rt. Hon. Baroness Scotland, since the United Nations’ Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women was adopted in 1993, 1 in 3 women have experienced sexual or physical violence in their lifetime.
Statistics like these, according to Rt. Hon. Baroness Scotland, urge the Commonwealth to accelerate its efforts to aid in the eradication of gender-based violence.
“The Commonwealth’s commitment comes from deep within. The thirst for justice that we all share. It also flows from our charter and the collective wish of our Heads of Government. We gather today to honour that mandate,” she said.
The high-level forum, according to Mrs. Davis, can serve as a catalyst for a response to help rectify the events of gender disparities and inequities in society. Reponses that include: political representation, education and skills development, ending violence against women and girls, digital inclusion, enhanced diversity and inclusion of women and girls with disabilities, and building partnerships.
Presentations by invited presenters and panel discussions shed light on the harrowing statistics concerning gender-based violence and legislation, mental health, female reproductive health, and effects of these issues at the societal level.
The presenters for the event included: Loretta Butler-Turner, Marion Bethel, Gaynel Diana Curry, Pastor Barrington H. Brennen, Dr. Woodside-Oriakhi, Cleopatra Christie, Dr. Sean Knowles, and Dr. Theresa Adderley.
A focus on community and an improved society through effective transformative leadership begins with gatherings like the 13th WAMM and the high level forum, according to Mrs. Davis.
“Let this gathering be a catalyst for action; a turning point in our pursuit of gender equality. May we leave here with a renewed commitment to transformative leadership, selfless and community-driven, and also a shared determination to build a Commonwealth and a world where every individual can thrive and contribute to the betterment of society,” she said. (BIS Photos/Anthon Thompson)