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Key meetings

A key focus of our work involves hosting and convening a number of gender-based meetings.

This includes convening triennial meetings of Commonwealth Women’s Affairs Ministerial Meetings, annual meetings of Annual Consultations of National Women’s Machineries and the recently established Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting Women’s Forum.

Through these meetings, we are able to connect experts and key stakeholders from across the Commonwealth, encouraging collaboration and providing the opportunity for attendees to share knowledge on the Commonwealth’s gender equality and women’s empowerment commitments. 

Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting Women’s Forum

The first Commonwealth Women's Forum was held at the 2015 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), hosted by the Government of Malta from 27-29 November 2015. 

The Forum was launched on 6 March 2015 by Her Excellency Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, President of Malta, as part of the International Women's Day 2015 celebrations.

The Commonwealth Women's Forum brought together women's rights campaigners, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), government leaders, women's machineries, and powerful female entrepreneurs. The intention is for the Forum to become a permanent feature in the CHOGM programmes and be the focal point for discussions on women's contributions in societies within the Commonwealth and beyond.  

The 2018 Women's Forum reflected on some of the global challenges still faced by women, as part of a wider commitment to "leave no one behind" in the Commonwealth journey to achieving gender equality by 2030. 

Commonwealth Women 's Forum - Outcome Statement

Commonwealth Women’s Affairs Ministerial Meetings

Commonwealth Women’s Affairs Ministerial Meetings (WAMMs) have been held triennially since 1985.  They provide strategic opportunities for ministers, senior officials, civil society organisations (CSOs) and partner agencies to discuss critical issues in advancing women’s empowerment and gender equality in the Commonwealth, and to contribute to global agenda-setting processes.

The meetings are used to:

  • Build consensus on a Commonwealth issue
  • Develop a Commonwealth position or statement on a global issue
  • Informally exchange views outside of a negotiating forum
  • Share good practices, building on members’ shared legal, administrative, and educational systems
  • Discuss programme priorities and strategic directions
  • Make recommendations for CHOGMs
  • Strengthen and forge partnerships with governments, corporate bodies, development actors and civil society.

WAMMs are held in regionally rotating venues to ensure equitable opportunities for hosting among Commonwealth countries. Following this principle, it was agreed that the Eleventh Commonwealth Women’s Affairs Ministers Meeting 2016 will be held in the Pacific region, hosted by the Government of Samoa in Apia.

Participation by partners and civil society in official Commonwealth processes is fundamental to achieving meaningful collaboration with Commonwealth governments. In recognition of this, WAMMs are preceded by Partners’ Forums which offer a unique opportunity for CSOs and other partners to discuss key issues related to the WAMM theme. The outcomes and recommendations of the Partners’ Forum are strategically fed into WAMM deliberations.

Annual Consultations of National Women’s Machineries

The annual consultation of National Women’s Machineries (NWMs) is convened in the margins of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW) in New York.

The meeting includes a business segment and capacity strengthening for members. The theme of the meeting is usually aligned to the global theme of UNCSW. The business meeting presents progress on the implementation of the Commonwealth Plan of Action for Gender Equality and post-2015 Commonwealth gender priorities, as well as updates on the mandates of CHOGM and WAMMs.

The capacity strengthening part of the meeting tends to focus on the good practices employed by member states on the key areas of concern of the Plan of Action including: women’s leadership, violence against women and girls, women’s economic empowerment and gender mainstreaming.

In addition, the Commonwealth Secretariat convenes two side events to identify good practices, strategies and mechanisms aligned to the UNCSW theme and 2013 CHOGM and 10WAMM mandates.

The annual consultation of NWMs is usually preceded by the meeting of the Commonwealth Gender Plan of Action Monitoring Group (CGPMG). The CGPMG meeting is restricted to 21 member countries and civil society organisations (CSOs).