One-third of the world’s poor live in Commonwealth countries and two-thirds of them are women. Poverty has a female face. COL/CEMCA recognises that the advancement of the goals of gender equality and women’s empowerment is central to its agenda of learning for development. For COL/CEMCA, gender equality is a cross-cutting corporate goal which requires that both women’s and men’s views, interests and needs shape its programmes.
Open and distance learning (ODL) can be especially helpful in enabling women and girls to access educational opportunities while also fulfilling other responsibilities. COL/CEMCA uses ODL to help promote gender equality.
COL/CEMCA has adopted gender mainstreaming as an organisational strategy. Implementing a mainstreaming strategy includes identifying gender-specific activities and initiatives, as appropriate, whenever girls/women or boys/men are in a particularly disadvantageous position. A gender equality perspective is taken at all stages of the programme cycle - planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation - to ensure that the initiatives offer equal opportunities, benefits and participation to girls/women and boys/men.