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Global Issue 15

Inbox Animal theme dominates writers awards global thi rd quar ter 2013 www.global -br ief ing.org l 71 commonwealth network FROM THE COMMONWEALTH SECRETARYGENERAL Development, together with democracy, has been one of the twin pillars of the Commonwealth. Since 2000 our member states have collectively accorded great importance to advancing the eight Millennium Development Goals that were agreed at the United Nations. The 2015 target date, by which it was hoped these goals would be attained, will soon be upon us. While substantial headway has been made, both globally and in the Commonwealth, a long road still lies ahead. Particular challenges remain in meeting targets on basic education, maternal mortality, hunger and gender equality. The fi nal global push is being led by two Commonwealth countries, Australia and Rwanda, as cochairs of the MDG Advocacy Group convened by the UN Secretary-General. As we assess progress and measure achievements against agreed benchmarks, work towards international convergence on a post-2015 sustainable development framework is already underway. The Commonwealth has a long record of building consensus around global challenges and is well placed to provide both analytical and practical insights into the debate, based on extensive experience of growth and development within the unmatched variety of our membership. Reform of the global development agenda has featured prominently at recent Commonwealth ministerial meetings, and will continue to do so going forward. The 2012 Commonwealth Conference of Education Ministers in Mauritius set up a Ministerial Working Group to defi ne Commonwealth development priorities for education post-2015, whose recommendations were conveyed through UK Prime Minister David Cameron, Co- Chair of the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel advising on the global development framework beyond 2015. Meetings in 2013 of Commonwealth Ministers of Health, Youth, Women’s Affairs and Environment have also considered how our combined efforts can best be directed to promote a robust, sustainable and effective global approach to development in these fi elds. It has been seen as important to reach agreement both on the goals themselves and on the means by which they can be achieved. Commonwealth Health Ministers emphasised the need to champion the goal of maximising health at all stages of life, including through universal health coverage and access. Commonwealth Youth Ministers and Youth Leaders, meeting in Papua New Guinea, agreed on the importance for the post-2015 framework of a specifi c goal on youth participation and empowerment, and youth focused indicators on all goals, and put forward these recommendations to the UN High- Level Panel and the UN Envoy on Youth. Commonwealth Women’s Affairs Ministers in Dhaka endorsed a twin-track approach to gender equality, as well as a stand-alone goal to ensure that gender equality is an objective in its own right and mainstreamed across all other goals. They also agreed that the context of the framework should address gender economic inequality and in social institutions, norms and practices, and emphasised the importance of working with men and boys as partners. Recognising that violence against women and children remains a critical issue affecting women’s empowerment with huge social costs, Ministers recommended that it should receive priority attention. In the new Commonwealth Secretariat Strategic Plan 2013-2017 there is a special focus on the post-2015 development agenda and its importance for our member states. The Plan recognises that there are opportunities as we continue to strive towards the MDGs by 2015 and also – as planning for the new global development architecture is carried forward – for distinctive Commonwealth advocacy. These include our principles of inclusiveness and equity, our fundamental values and our concern for the small and vulnerable as refl ected in the Marlborough House Declaration of 2008. The Secretariat has an impressive history of engaging and infl uencing global discussions and decision-making processes. On behalf of the Commonwealth family, we will continue these efforts, with telling research and analysis and prescriptions, identifying trends, gaps and opportunities for the future. An all-female winners’ list for the 2013 Commonwealth Book and Short Story Prizes has championed stories set in locations as diverse as Glasgow, Trinidad and Tobago, and British Columbia. The debut novel of UK writer Lisa O’Donnell won the Commonwealth Book Prize. The Death of Bees is a story of two young sisters living in Glasgow’s Hazlehurst estate, trying to hold the world at bay after the mysterious death of their parents. Godfrey Smith, chair of the judges, said: “The Death of Bees emerged as the overall winner virtually by acclamation. This coming-of-age novel is at once a grim, dark, entertaining story about gnawing emotional neglect in the lives of the young protagonists as they struggle to keep their deadly secret.” Meanwhile, two joint winners have been awarded the Short Story Prize. Judges chair Razia Iqbal said: “It was impossible to decide between them, though each one is quite distinctly different from the other. Both fulfi lled our criteria of excellence in style, originality and tone.” The winners were Sharon Millar, Trinidad and Tobago, for The Whale House and Eliza Robertson, Canada, for We Walked on Water. The Whale House is a story of a woman recovering from a miscarriage, which in turn resurrects an old confl ict and a long-kept secret. We Walked on Water is about a boy who loses his twin sister during the Ironman competition in Penticton, BC. The awards – the Book Prize is worth £10,000 and the Short Story Prize £5,000 – were presented by John le Carré at Hay Festival in Wales. The competition is organised by the Commonwealth Foundation.


Global Issue 15
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