Despite growing international consensus on women empowerment, significant gaps remain in many Commonwealth nations in ensuring unhindered access to justice for women, an international NGO said on Wednesday.
The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) said that on the occasion of International Women's Day, it "reaffirms its commitment towards ensuring a future of justice, empowerment, equality and prosperity for women" across the world.
"CHRI joins all groups and governments committed to these efforts in the struggle to promote political, social and economic empowerment of women by eliminating gender-based violence, securing access to justice and providing quality education to women," the NGO said in a statement.
It lamented that police services remain bastions of masculinity, with poor representation of women.
"These are the spaces and places where visible, enduring and critical changes must take place if the rights of women are to be upheld and celebrated," the NGO said.
"Everyone is aware of the many and varied factors impeding women's access to justice, including a dominant patriarchy, lack of awareness of legal rights and remedies, insensitive and unaccountable policing, and judicial processes, which are gender insensitive," it added.
It said that the need to bridge gender gap is increasingly recognised as central to global progress as they are enshrined in the Commonwealth Charter that covers 52 nations as well as the Constitution and is at the heart of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).