Public leader receives award for women’s rights efforts
Kamalesh Sharma, secretary-general of the Commonwealth Secretariat – the main intergovernmental agency of the 53 Commonwealth nations, has been given an award for his work to promote women’s rights.
The Commonwealth Businesswomen’s Network (CBN), which focuses on women’s economic empowerment across the commonwealth countries, last week presented Sharma with the Commonwealth Male Champion of Change award, which for the first time this year featured in the CBN’s annual Commonwealth Women Entrepreneur of the Year awards.
Sharma received the accolade in recognition of his leadership on the secretariat’s policy on gender mainstreaming, which encourages senior government officials to consider the impact of legislations, policies and programmes on women.
He said he was grateful that the secretariat’s work in “creating opportunities for women in many spheres of social and economic life” was being acknowledged and added: “I have made it a personal priority that our Commonwealth work ‘gender mainstreaming’ should be far more than a slogan.
“We are committed to achieving practical change that has impact in the lives and livelihoods of women and girls in all our member states.”
Arif Zaman, executive director of CBN, described Sharma as “someone who has been a passionate, active and dedicated champion for women, combining advocacy with practical steps.”
Sharma was one of eight winners, who received their awards at the Jamaican High Commission in London last week.
Sharma became Commonwealth secretary-general in 2008 after serving as ambassador for the Indian Foreign Service in five different missions, including to the UK.
Sharma, who went to boarding school and college in India before reading literature at Cambridge University, counts poverty eradication, economic growth and the advancement of women’s rights among his special interests.
His term will come to an end next year, and later this month country leaders will vote for a new secretary-general who will take office on 1 April 2016.
The Commonwealth Secretariat is a voluntary association, which provides guidance on policymaking, technical assistance and advisory services to Commonwealth member countries and seeks to support governments in achieving sustainable, inclusive and equitable development.