Pan-Commonwealth ‘Women in Leadership’ Essay Competition 2013.


Submission Deadline: 8 April 2013
The Commonwealth’s 10th Women Affairs Ministerial Meeting (10WAMM) will take place in Bangladesh from 17-19 June 2013. In keeping with the 2013 Commonwealth Theme ‘Opportunity through Enterprise’ the theme for the 10WAMM is Women’s Leadership for Enterprise’. Whilst the 10WAMM theme reflects the Commonwealth theme, it is also very timely and highlights the topical and critical issue which is the status and engagement of women in the Commonwealth.

This theme is meant to engage commonwealth citizens at all levels irrespective of age, gender, sex, religion or socio-economic status. The Commonwealth, as a group of 54 countries leads in the promotion of gender equality and women’s empowerment and have achieved much progress towards increasing:
1) women’s representation and participation in politics and the development
2) national governments implementing more mechanisms for gender responsive
3) and improving women’s access to finance and entrepreneurial opportunity
4) and improving women’s rights to land ownership and other material resources
5) awareness among member countries that gender equality is a fundamental human right which can only be realised by empowering girls and women.
This progress becomes evident when Commonwealth countries are featured very visibly in global data regarding the achievement of women. For example, 7 of the top 9 Fortune list of the most powerful businesswomen are from Commonwealth countries; a third of African countries have over 30 per cent representation of women in governance; 13 Commonwealth countries are in the top 40 for mainstreaming women into Parliament. However, despite these achievements, women are still disadvantaged at all levels which leave much to be desired in terms of gender equality and women empowerment.

It is for this reason, it is hoped that the 10WAMM theme will not only create awareness of this shortfall, but stimulate discussion and debate as well as present opportunities for creating innovative mechanisms aimed at promoting and realising gender equality and women empowerment in the Commonwealth.

It is with this background that the Commonwealth Secretariat’s Gender Section is launching a Pan-Commonwealth ‘Women in Leadership’ essay competition with a view to engaging the youth in the discussion. Participants must answer one of the following questions:
How and why should governments encourage women’s leadership? OR
How and why should governments encourage women owned enterprises?
The competition will allow both male and female youths from the Commonwealth to engage in the debates and present their perspective on the subject. Crucially, it will also create awareness among youth who are future leaders.

The Commonwealth ‘Women in Leadership’ essay competition is open to all youth in the Commonwealth between the ages of 15 and 29 years. In order to ensure fairness, taking into consideration the varied abilities based on
age differences, the competition will be divided into two categories:
Category 1: 15 to 17 years
Category 2: 18 to 29 years

The competition was launched on International Women’s Day (Friday 8 March) and the deadline for submission will be on the 8 April 2013.
Activity Date

  • Deadline for submission 08 April 2013 (midnight UK time)
  • Winner attends 10WAMM 17-19 June 2013 (Bangladesh)

Secretariat and the Ministry of Women Affairs, Bangladesh staff are excluded from participating in the competition. Such submissions will be disqualified from the competition.
Criteria for evaluation:
The evaluation will be based on a number of criteria which will guide the quality and standard of work expected for the competition. The essay should:

  • be preferably word processed and must not exceed 1500 word
  • be submitted in size 12 Ariel font and in 1.5 line spacing
  • be appropriately referenced and include a bibliography of references (where applicable). Plagiarism will result in disqualification
  • include a fully completed cover page obtainable at


  • include a header stating only the candidate’s name and date of birth at the top right hand corner of each page

Commonwealth Women in Leadership Essay Competition, Commonwealth
Secretariat, Social Transformation Programmes Division, Gender Section,
Marlborough House, Pall Mall, London SW1Y, 5HX on or before the deadline
of 8 April 2013.
Essays received after this deadline will NOT be entered in the competition.
Please keep a copy of your essay after submission. Only essays with a cover page
will be considered

Guidelines for writing essays (15-17):

Within the context of gender equality, women empowerment and development, essays are expected to demonstrate:
1) creativity, imagination and inventiveness, and use their personalexperiences where applicable.
2) an understanding of the relevant issues;
3) an appropriate balance between factual detail and personal experience;
4) critical thinking and original thought which will contribute to current debates;
5) clear evidence of relevant reading;
6) a focused and well developed argument response to the question which provides a clear introduction, and leads to an appropriate conclusion.
Guidelines for writing essays (18-29):
1) evidence of critical thinking and original thought which will contribute to current debates;
2) a rigorous use and a good understanding of relevant source materials, and achieving an appropriate balance between factual detail and theoretical issues;
3) clear evidence of wide and relevant reading and an engagement with the issues;
4) a good understanding of the factual and/or theoretical issues, and addresses the relevant literature on the topic;
5) knowledge of key issues and develop a focused argument in response to the question;
6) a well-structured and well-presented paper which provides a clear introduction, and articulates a well-developed argument leading to an appropriate conclusion.

Please note that only Commonwealth citizens are eligible for participation.


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