News from the Network
Commonwealth Youth and Gender Equality Network (CYGEN)
In May, CLGF Pacific Communications and Research Officer, Miriam Rees was selected to be among 35 young people from across the Commonwealth to attend the Commonwealth Youth and Gender Equality Network Forum in Malta. CLGF was represented due to the work it has been implementing in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands around gender equality and women's participation in local government. The event was organized by the Royal Commonwealth Society (RCS) and ran for five days.
The forum took place six months ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) and was a key opportunity to discuss gender equality concerns and priorities ahead of active engagement in the Commonwealth Youth Forum, People's Forum and Women's Forum, which all take place in the wings of CHOGM.
The forum brought together young professionals and experts from 20 Commonwealth countries in an inter-generational learning environment through workshops, discussions and training sessions. The interaction aimed to develop knowledge in a range of areas, including various gender issues, effective advocacy and further practical skills. A range of key gender inequality issues that the Commonwealth faces was discussed, as participants worked together to develop key strategies and policies to tackle these issues. Workshops and discussions were facilitated by trainers and experts, and served as a space to share knowledge and experience, gain a greater understanding of the issues more clearly in a global context, and explore how to advocate more effectively at key moments, particularly within Commonwealth structures.
Discriminatory gender norms are a central underpinning factor affecting the lives of young people in the Commonwealth today. Diverse issues from discrimination in employment, to sexual violence, to child marriage are all products of deep-rooted gender inequality. Although young people have often been victims of gender-based discrimination they are also well placed to combat these problems and build equality. The aim of the CYGEN is to build a network of young people from across the Commonwealth who can collaborate and share good practice in their work.
Youth voices on gender issues are not represented in formal Commonwealth youth structures, and this is a vacuum which urgently needs to be filled in order to create a more robust network of advocates, who can effectively push for policy change at local, national, regional and international levels.
The network released its statement of priorities and recommendations for the Commonwealth at the close of the forum: The Gender Agenda: Youth Perspectives from Across the Commonwealth.