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COMMONWEALTH WOMEN PARLIAMENTARIANS NEWS CWP CHAIRPERSON JOINS VIRTUAL CWP CANADIAN REGION STEERING COMMITTEE TO DISCUSS FUTURE ACTIVITIES The Chairperson of the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP), Hon. Shandana Gulzar Khan, MNA (Pakistan) attended a virtual CWP Canadian Region Steering Committee to discuss future activities of the network and the CWP strategic plan. The virtual meeting was chaired by the CWP Canadian Region Chair, Hon. Lisa Thompson, MPP (Ontario) and was attended by representatives from the Canadian Federal Parliament and Provincial Legislatures as well as the CPA Secretary-General Stephen Twigg. CWP Members looked ahead to activities to mark International Women’s Day in March 2021 on the theme of #ChooseToChallenge.

FIJI WOMEN’S REPRESENTATION IN PARLIAMENT CONTINUES TO IMPROVE

CWP CHAIR AT PGA GLOBAL EVENT

The participation of women in Fiji at the national leadership level reached another key milestone after the swearing in of Hon. Tanya Waqanika as a Member of Parliament in December 2020. Women’s representation in Fiji has grown significantly from 4.3% in 1995 to 21.6% in 2020. According to the Pacific Women in Politics website, women have never comprised more than 30% of the membership of national Parliaments in the Pacific Island countries since Independence (not including Australia, New Zealand and the territories of the United States of America and France, respectively in the region), and the percentage of women in Pacific Parliaments overall currently stands at an average of 8.8% (as of April 2020). Sustainable Development Goal 5.5 calls on countries to ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision making in the political, economic and public life and the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP) is working closely with Parliaments in the Pacific Region to assist in this goal.

In November 2020, the CWP Chairperson addressed the Parliamentarians for Global Action (PGA) event - 11 th Consultative Assembly of Parliamentarians on the International Criminal Court and the Rule of Law (CAP-ICC). The virtual event, co-hosted by the PGA National Group in The Netherlands, discussed the challenges and opportunities in attaining a universal justice system through the Rome Statute, while discussing the sanctions against the ICC and the independent mandate of its organs during the unprecedented circumstances the current global health emergency.

CWP AUSTRALIA CHAIR AT 2020 REYKJAVIK GLOBAL FORUM FOR WOMEN LEADERS In November 2020, Senator Sue Lines, Deputy President of the Senate of Australia and Chairperson of the Commonwealth of Australia chapter of the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP) network spoke at the 2020 Reykjavik Global Forum for Women Leaders. Senator Lines, representing the CWP and the Australian Parliament at the Forum, discussed the impact of COVID19 on progress towards economic and social equality for women. She urged governments to create gender-aware recovery strategies and find new, innovative solutions to women’s issues to prevent a reversal of progress on gender equality in the aftermath of the pandemic. Founded in 2018, the Forum provides women leaders from around the world the opportunity to connect across sectors and to share solutions for fostering equality in decision-making and building back better postCOVID-19. Held online over the course of three days and consisting of panels, keynote speeches, interviews and other events, this year’s digital forum was attended by prominent women leaders from politics, business and entertainment, including former US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, philanthropist Melinda Gates and Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, leader of the opposition in Belarus. Senator Lines began by acknowledging the recent passing of Susan Ryan, Australia’s first female Labor party cabinet minister and a ‘trailblazer for Australian women in politics’. Ryan, Lines said, had pioneered the Women’s Budget Statement, which surveyed the impact of budget allocations on women’s rights. The need for gender analyses of policy, she said, was needed now more than ever to ensure the response to the pandemic does not disrupt years of progress on gender equality. According to recent studies, the Senator said, women are facing increased job insecurity and have been disproportionately impacted by the pressures of working from home. At the same time, incidents of domestic abuse have risen sharply during lockdowns around the world. Governments must create sustainable recovery plans that recognise the particular adversities that COVID-19 has caused women. 78 | The Parliamentarian | 2021: Issue One | 100 years of publishing

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