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New Commonwealth Youth Gender and Equality Network launched

The Kaleidoscope Trust was delighted to participate in the launch of the Commonwealth Youth Gender and Equality Network (CYGEN) this month in Malta. Convened by the Royal Commonwealth Society, the network brings together young experts on a range of gender issues from over 20 countries in a youth-led advocacy group that works towards policy change that improves the lives of young people. 


At the network's inaugural meeting, the Trust's Programme Manager Alistair Stewart facilitated a working group of young Commonwealth experts on the challenges facing people of diverse sexual orientations, gender identities, gender expressions and sex characteristics (SOGIGESC). The working group produced key priorities that the Commonwealth needs to address in order to ensure equality for all: -


  • Equal access to, or the creation of, safe health practices.

  • Economic security through equal access to, and protection in, education, employment & housing.

  • Freedom from legal persecution based on SOGIGESC status.

  • Protection through the vigorous application of existing constitutions and legislation.

  • Freedom of expression, association and assembly through full inclusion in civil society spaces. 


Key recommedations made by the group include: -


  • Commonwealth institutions work closely with states to create and improve access to safe, nondiscriminatory, and appropriate health practices using internationally recognised health indicators, as per the standards of the WHO, to assess progress.
  • Commonwealth institutions must include an understanding of the needs of SOGIGESC communities, developed in consultation with our communities, in the technical advice they provide to states in all areas related to economic security.
  • Member states work with Commonwealth institutions and other actors to expedite a process of reviewing and amending discriminatory legislation to be inclusive, as enshrined in their constitutions and in line with regional and international mechanisms.
  • Member states and Commonwealth institutions work to provide equal protection under existing laws, and to extend protection to other areas, including protection from violence, in labour rights, education and housing.
  • Member states must recognise the existence and operation of SOGIGESC organisations as legal entities and remove legislation that bans participation in civil society.


The network's full set of priorities were presented to the Maltese President along with a rainbow flag (see above).



The Trust's Programme Manager Alistair Stewart said:


It has been a real pleasure to work with such a broad range of young experts, drawn from all over the Commonwealth and from within our many communities. Their depth of knowledge and their real passion for change is inspiring. The Commonwealth would be wise to take into account their policy recommendations if it is serious about concretely improving the live of young people, regardless of the sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or sex characteristics.

The forum brought together young professionals and experts in an inter-generational learning environment through workshops, discussions and training sessions. The interaction aimed to develop knowledge in a range of areas, including various gender issues, effective advocacy, and further practical skills.