LONDON –- The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) is celebrating Commonwealth Day 2021 across the CPA’s nine Regions and over 180 Parliaments and Legislatures. The 2021 Commonwealth Day theme focuses on ‘Delivering a Common Future: Connecting, Innovating, Transforming,’ which offers opportunities for the people, Parliaments, governments and institutions of the Commonwealth to connect and work together at many levels through far-reaching and deep-rooted networks of friendship and goodwill.
Commonwealth Day is celebrated annually on the second Monday of March. Although Commonwealth Day celebrations may be limited this year due the current global pandemic, the CPA and its CPA Branches are still hosting a series of online and virtual events.
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Head of the Commonwealth and Patron of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, released her Commonwealth Day message in which she spoke of the diversity of the people and countries that make up the Commonwealth and its ability to deliver a common future for all.
The traditional Westminster Abbey Service for Commonwealth Day was cancelled this year due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“Whilst experiences of the last year have been different across the Commonwealth, stirring examples of courage, commitment and selfless dedication to duty have been demonstrated in every Commonwealth nation and territory, notably by those working on the front line who have been delivering health care and other public services in their communities,” said the message from HM Queen Elizabeth II.
“We have also taken encouragement from remarkable advances in developing new vaccines and treatments. The testing times experienced by so many have led to a deeper appreciation of the mutual support and spiritual sustenance we enjoy by being connected to others. The need to maintain greater physical distance, or to live and work largely in isolation, has, for many people across the Commonwealth, been an unusual experience.
“In our everyday lives, we have had to become more accustomed to connecting and communicating via innovative technology -which has been new to some of us -with conversations and communal gatherings, including Commonwealth meetings, conducted online, enabling people to stay in touch with friends, family, colleagues, and counterparts who they have not been able to meet in person.
“Increasingly, we have found ourselves able to enjoy such communication, as it offers an immediacy that transcends boundaries or division, helping any sense of distance to disappear.
“We have all continued to appreciate the support, breadth of experiences and knowledge that working together brings, and I hope we shall maintain this renewed sense of closeness and community.
“Looking forward, relationships with others across the Commonwealth will remain important as we strive to deliver a common future that is sustainable and more secure, so that the nations and neighbourhoods in which we live, wherever they are located, become healthier and happier places for us all,” concluded Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
Hon. Emilia Monjowa Lifaka, MP, Chairperson of the CPA International Executive Committee and Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly of Cameroon released a Commonwealth Day message on behalf of the CPA and said:
“The COVID-19 pandemic may have physically separated many of us this year, but the bond that connects the various peoples of the Commonwealth remains strong. Now more than ever, we must remain united and act collectively in order to deliver a common future. With our membership of over 17,000 Parliamentarians and parliamentary staff spread across more than 180 Parliaments and Legislatures, the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) continues to promote the importance of parliamentary democracy and its value within our societies and our global community.”
To view the CPA Chairperson’s message go to: www.cpahq.org/cpahq/youtube.
“I am pleased to celebrate Commonwealth Day 2021 – my first as the CPA’s Secretary-General,” said Stephen Twigg. “Today, we have an opportunity to reflect on the diversity of the Commonwealth. In particular, as it is also International Women’s Day, I pay tribute to the hard work of women Parliamentarians across the Commonwealth. Additionally, I am delighted to highlight the importance of engaging young people and the relaunch of CPA’s Youth Engagement Pack. As we look to the future, the Commonwealth has a responsibility to listen to diverse voices including women and young people.”
The CPA Headquarters Secretariat has updated and re-launched its Commonwealth Day Youth Engagement Pack in advance of Commonwealth Day. The pack was first launched in 2020 to support parliamentary outreach activities on Commonwealth Day. It has been updated with ideas and resources that provide options for virtual activities in recognition of the lockdowns currently in place in many Commonwealth jurisdictions due to COVID-19. The pack features:
• A handbook outlining potential activities for Commonwealth Day;
• A series of tools to use on Commonwealth Day, such as a quiz, factsheet and activity cards; and
• A leaflet with further information on this year’s Commonwealth Day theme.