The Founder and Executive Director of ACCORD, Vasu Gounden, was invited by the Commonwealth Secretariat in London to be a resource at the Eighth Commonwealth Women’s Affairs Ministers Meeting (8WAMM), which was held in Kampala, Uganda from 11 …
The Founder and Executive Director of ACCORD, Vasu Gounden, was invited by the Commonwealth Secretariat in London to be a resource at the Eighth Commonwealth Women’s Affairs Ministers Meeting (8WAMM), which was held in Kampala, Uganda from 11–14 June 2007.
The WAMM’s are held triennially, with the previous meeting, 7WAMM, being held in Fiji in 2004, where the Ministers agreed to the new Commonwealth Plan of Action for Gender Equality 2005-2015 (PoA).
The 8WAMM was of strategic importance since it was the third WAMM to take place in Africa, (the previous two being held in Nairobi  and Harare ). It was also the first WAMM to be held since the new PoA was agreed to at 7WAMM in 2004, which was presented to the UN Beijing+10 Global Review, and endorsed by the Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM) in Malta 2005. The 8WAMM was also being held five months prior to CHOGM, which will also be held in Uganda in November 2007. The meeting therefore offered the potential for bringing women’s empowerment and gender equality to the attention of Heads of Government.
The theme for 8WAMM was “Financing Gender Equality for Development and emocracy” and the objectives of the conference were to:
provide a forum for discussion, sharing of experiences and forward planning on the proposed theme of “Financing Gender Equality for Development and Democracy”;
report on the implementation of the PoA, the Commonwealth Secretariat’s Gender Audit, and the Commonwealth Gender PoA Monitoring Group;
discuss and agree a PoA Monitoring and Evaluation Framework; and
develop a strategy/message for CHOGM in Uganda.
Since it is Commonwealth tradition for the host country to chair the meeting, the Chair of 8WAMM was The Honourable Syda Bbumba, the Ugandan Minister of Gender, Labour and Social Development. The Conference brought together some 250-300 Women’s Affairs Ministers; Senior Officials; Parliamentarians; Magistrates, Judges and Lawyers; women entrepreneurs; gender and youth civil society organisations; and international, Commonwealth, regional and bilateral partner agencies from around the Commonwealth and globally. The structure of 8WAMM included a senior officials meeting; the opening ceremony; a ministerial meeting that included plenary sessions, thematic working groups, a government-civil society dialogue, and an inter-generational dialogue; and a partners’ forum that included workshops of parliamentarians; magistrates, judges and lawyers; women entrepreneurs; young people; and donor/partner agencies. The CSO Partners’ Forum fed into the plenaries of the Ministerial Meeting, with every 6th speaker being a civil society representative. In addition, the Thematic Working Groups allowed for more informal exchanges between government and civil society representatives. Mr. Gounden was asked to make a presentation on the topic “Investing in Gender Equality: Promoting Democracy, Peace and Development in the Commonwealth”.
In the late 1990’s Mr. Gounden was a consultant to the Commonwealth Gender and Youth Division, where he trained Parliamentarians, women and youth groups from Africa, Asia and the Caribbean.
In 2006 ACCORD received the Tombouctou Award for its work in gender mainstreaming on the Continent and in 2002, in partnership with Femme Africa Solidarite (FAS) and the African Women’s Committee on Development (AWCPD), ACCORD hosted a Gender pre-Summit meeting at ACCORD House just prior to the launch of the inaugural African Union (AU) Summit meeting in Durban, South Africa, which lead to gender mainstreaming being added to the agenda of the AU meeting. ACCORD has also been actively involved in gender mainstreaming through its Peace and Security Unit, where it has worked with the United Nations Department for Peacekeeping Operations in mainstreaming gender equality in peacekeeping and peace building operations.