Advancing Gender Equality

Case Studies from Across the Commonwealth

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The Commonwealth Secretariat has been a pioneer in promoting women’s rights and gender equality since the 1976–85 UN Decade for Women, and of gender mainstreaming since the UN 4th World Conference on Women, to which our 1995 Plan of Action on Gender and Development was a Commonwealth contribution.

This publication brings together case studies prepared in connection with the end-of-term review of the 2005–15 Commonwealth Plan of Action for Gender Equality. The case studies are based on submissions and interviews with government representatives, gender specialists and other stakeholders, including civil society organisations, from 20 countries representing all regions of the Commonwealth.

The examples were selected to demonstrate a range of strategies that can be employed to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment. Together they help to show what perpetuates gender inequality and offer approaches that can be adopted to help end unjust discrimination.



One-Stop Crisis Centre, Bangladesh

Bangladesh, like many other countries, has deep-rooted patriarchal structures that include the manifestation of various forms of VAWG. VAWG is a serious social, cultural and economic problem in Bangladesh, where nearly two out of every three women have experienced violence during their lifetime. Bangladeshi women usually do not perpetrate violence, nor do they seek help against the violent behaviour of men (WHO 2005 cited in Das, Amin, Johnson and Hossain 2008). The Constitution of Bangladesh guarantees every woman and man ‘equal rights in all spheres of the state and public life’. However many experts, including the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, noted that the personal status laws treat women and men differently, and perpetuate discrimination against women (UN General Assembly 2014).


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