– heralds success of 2018 women’s forumSDG’sWith gender equality being one of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted in 2015 by the United Nations, how a country facilitates equal opportunities for its women is a major indicator of development.Speaking during a press conference on Friday, Commonwealth Secretary General Baroness Patricia Scotland alluded to this very subject. She noted the importance of making gender equality a reality.Commonwealth Secretary General, Baroness Patricia Scotland“If we are to succeed, then empowering our women and giving our women proper opportunities to make a contribution in all fields — whether it’s political, business, cultural, civil society — it’s going to be very important, and our women’s forum was very successful.”The 2018 Commonwealth Women’s Forum had addressed the theme of “An empowered future for women and girls”. It was intended to reflect on some of the global challenges still faced by women, as part of a wider commitment to “leave no one behind” in the Commonwealth journey to achieving gender equality by 2030.When it comes to providing these women with innovative options to choose from, Scotland spoke of specific initiatives that the Commonwealth Secretariat aimed to support and facilitate personal development of.“There’s an agreement we made with the Global Innovation Fund to create a Commonwealth Innovation Fund of £25 million; that new innovators who may have great ideas can make an application to the Commonwealth Innovation Fund and have their innovations supported,” Scotland had said.Recently, over 60 women with small businesses were afforded the opportunity to display their products and services. Under the slogan “Girl Power”, the third annual Women in Business (WIB) Expo opened at the Pegasus Hotel in Georgetown last month.A scene from the Women’s Business ExpoThe event was a collaborative effort between the Sonia Noel Foundation for Creative Arts (SNFCA) and the Women’s Association for Sustainable Development.In addition to the expo, there was a health, business and technology forum; a ‘charting your course’ and ‘Inspire You’ events, an evening with Sherry Dixon, a tea party and fashion show, book signing, and a leadership conference.For the more than 60 women exhibiting their products and services, the WIB has served as a launching pad as they build new bridges and collaborate with each other to further expand their reach.The entire idea of the two-day exhibition is to empower women to further develop themselves, and not depend on a male counterpart for sustenance.At the opening ceremony, Public Telecommunications Minister Cathy Hughes had urged women to stand up, speak out, and get more involved in the workings of society. She had used the opportunity to urge women to take up more positions in society, since they offer a different perspective on every situation.“Let your voices be heard! We must let our voices be heard. Do not leave the dialogue to a few usual suspects, who want to drown out the opportunities we have been given, and who don’t want to focus on and take those opportunities on how we prepare to get there. It is against that background that I ask each one of you to use your voices to speak up! Speak out and be an agent of change,” she had said.