Kamalesh Sharma speaks on women, youth and preparations for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting
The Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma addressed Australian business leaders on 31 January on the importance of enabling young people and women to reach their potential as entrepreneurs at the launch event for the 2011 Commonwealth Business Council (CBC) Forum. Speaking in Perth, Australia, Mr Sharma drew upon this year’s Commonwealth Day theme, ‘Women as Agents of Change’ – which emphasises the Commonwealth message that by investing in women and girls we can accelerate social, economic and political progress in our member states – to ask business leaders at the CBC event on how the Commonwealth could advance women entrepreneurs. He said: “Where women prosper, societies prosper, therefore how can we advance women entrepreneurs to pull societies and individuals out of poverty?” He went on to note that in many member states youth are a majority and leaders can no longer ignore their needs or potential. Mr Sharma stressed the need to treat the youth of the Commonwealth as an “asset” and commented on the programmes that the Commonwealth Secretariat runs to arrange small loans for youths to begin and grow their businesses. He added: “Wealth creation begins with investment in the social infrastructure of our member states, including education and democratic governance, which create hope and new potential for women and youth.” He recalled that the Commonwealth is based on democratic governance, economic and social development and a respect for diversity. He called on the business community to support these efforts and noted that the private sector has an important role to play in allowing individuals and societies to achieve their full potential. Business leaders were gathered in Perth to discuss the plans for the CBC Forum, a two-day business event for local and international businesses, held from 25 to 27 October 2011 in Perth, directly before the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM). The CBC works in partnership with Commonwealth governments and the private sector to increase international trade and investment flows, promote good governance and corporate social responsibility, reduce the digital divide and integrate developing countries into the global market. At the inauguration, Mr. Sharma also thanked the Australian Government and the Government of Western Australia for their “excellent” preparations in the run up to CHOGM in Perth, Australia, in October 2011.
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