Commonwealth Day – This year’s theme is ‘Women as Agents of Change’



Commonwealth Day



Celebrated March 14, 2011 



A Celebration of Women

honors the Commonwealth and Celebrates this years Theme of 2011


The idea of a designated day each year to celebrate the Empire was first put forward in 1894 by the Canadian branch of the Royal Colonial Institute (now the Royal Commonwealth Society). Clementina Fessenden, the wife of Ontario Minister of Education, Senator George W. Ross, promoted a scheme for children to commemorate the Empire on one day each year. The proposal to turn this into a national event was put to a meeting of the Canadian Education Association in 1898 and passed unanimously.

The news of the observance of an Empire day by Canadian schoolchildren stirred the emotions of many others around the Empire, including the British Leagues of Australia, who, in a letter to The Times in 1903, not only backed the idea, but suggested that Empire day be celebrated by everyone, not only school children.

In the United Kingdom, The Earl of Meath led a self-financed one man campaign for Empire day to be celebrated throughout the Empire. His work was successful, and, during the First World War, official recognition was given to Empire day in Britain. Its first national observance took place on 24 May 1916, when over 70,000 schools and institutions such as the Stock Exchange saluted the flag and sang the national anthem.

In January 1921, feeling that he had taken the Empire Day Movement as far as he could, Meath formally invited the Royal Colonial Institute to assume control of it. The movement was accommodated in the Institute’s building on Northumberland Avenue and directed by a committee composed of members of the Institute and of Meath’s original team. Sir Lawrence Wallace acted as Chairman and Meath himself chose to occupy the position of Vice-Chairman. Meath became the movement’s first President from 1927 to 1929, after which he was replaced by Admiral Earl Jellicoe.

April 1949 heralded the birth of the modern Commonwealth when Heads of State from Australia, Britain, Ceylon, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa and the Canadian Secretary of State for External Affairs met in London to decide what could be salvaged from the wreckage of Empire. As a result, in 1958 Empire Day became known as British Commonwealth Day, before finally becoming Commonwealth Day in 1966. That same year, the date of Commonwealth Day in the United Kingdom was temporarily set as 10th June, to coincide with the official birthday of Queen Elizabeth II.

During the 1975 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Kingston, Jamaica, the Canadian delegation proposed that a “simultaneously observed Commonwealth Day would focus attention upon the association and its contribution to a harmonious global environment.” The date was settled at the following Senior Officials Meeting in Canberra, Australia, in 1976. With a deliberate focus on reaching a young audience, the second Monday in March was selected for Commonwealth Day so that the majority schools around the Commonwealth would be in term-time.


March 1977: Celebrating Commonwealth Day in Ghana

Commonwealth Day was simultaneously celebrated across all member countries for the first time in 1977. Secretary-General Shridath Ramphal, marked the occasion in Accra while attending the Seventh Commonwealth Education Conference.

In addition to hosting an official function at the State House, the Secretary-General was also able to enjoy an exhibition of Commonwealth children’s art mounted in the Kwame Nkrumah Conference Centre, and to join in some of the other Ghanaian special activities. He stated; “I am sure all who were present will long remember the occasion and give encouragement to schools to celebrate successive Commonwealth Days in ways which serve to increase Commonwealth understanding.”

This sentiment was very much in evidence at the Conference which at its conclusion gave approval to an increased emphasis on programmes of education which were specifically designed to create an enhanced understanding and appreciation of the Commonwealth.

The records relating to the first simultaneous observance of Commonwealth Day and of the Seventh Commonwealth Education Conference can be found in the Commonwealth Secretariats Library and Archives.

As such, 1977 marked the first simultaneous observance day across the entire Commonwealth.


Queen of the Commonwealth


Queen Elizabeth II Celebrates Women Worldwide–britain-s-queen-elizabeth-ii-celebrates-women-worldwide-on-commonwealth-day 

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II – WOMAN of ACTION *Tribute
2010 Photos:

Today, Commonwealth Day is celebrated every year throughout the Commonwealth in variety of ways. The centre piece of the celebrations is the Commonwealth Day Observance in London. The multi-faith service, which takes place at Westminster Abbey, is attended by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Head of the Commonwealth, the representatives of Commonwealth countries in London, the Commonwealth High Commissioners and 1,000 school-aged children. In recent years, the event has also been attended by the Commonwealth Chairperson-in-Office, the Head of State whose country has hosted the most recent biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

The Observance features hymns, readings and performances which reflect the vibrancy and diversity of the modern Commonwealth. From 1994, the Commonwealth Day Observance has taken a different theme, in accordance with the annual theme for the Commonwealth. Furthermore, though Commonwealth Day remains the centrepiece of the Commonwealth calendar, since 2008, there has been a greater emphasis on Commonwealth Week as a whole due to the sheer number of activities and celebrations.

The Commonwealth Day Observance is delivered by the Royal Commonwealth Society (RCS), under the auspices of the Council of Commonwealth Societies (CCS). The CCS is a membership organisation, chaired by Lord Watson of Richmond CBE, and tasked with supporting and coordinating Commonwealth-wide celebrations.




It means that by investing in women and girls, we can accelerate social, economic and political progress.

Women and girls make up over half of the world’s population. In the Commonwealth, that’s over one billion people. By educating them, giving them accessible health care and making sure they are treated fairly and have the same opportunities and protection as men and boys, we can go a long way towards addressing the many problems of the world.

Women and girls need to be included at all levels of decision making to ensure that their needs are properly met. This will benefit us all.



‘Women as Agents of Change’




Annie To Speak At Commonwealth Day Observance


We are delighted to announce that Annie Lennox will speak at the annual Observance ceremony marking Commonwealth Day on 14th March 2011. Each year, the Commonwealth Day Observance takes a particular theme. In 2011, the theme is ‘Women as Agents of Change’. Annie Lennox is the perfect choice of speaker given that not only is she an accomplished and ground-breaking female musician, she is also renowned as a passionate advocate of women’s rights. In addition to her appointment as a Special Envoy for The Scottish Parliament for HIV and AIDS for women and children, Annie Lennox is a Goodwill Ambassador for UNAIDS. She was named among Barclays’ ‘Women of the Year 2010′, Harpers’ ‘Women of the Year 2010’ and was titled GQ’s ‘Charity Woman of the Year 2010’. In January 2011, she was granted an OBE by Queen Elizabeth II.
The annual Commonwealth Day Observance takes place in the presence of Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh at Westminster Abbey. Attended by Commonwealth Heads of Government, Commonwealth High Commissioners, specially invited guests and 1,000 schoolchildren, the Observance is a colourful and vibrant mix of performances, testimonies and readings representing all corners of the Commonwealth. The Observance is organised by the Royal Commonwealth Society on behalf of the Council of Commonwealth Societies. 
More details about the Observance, Commonwealth Day and the Commonwealth theme can be found at





A Celebration of Women

sends our blessings and love to this Angel looking over so many….

especially the Children and Women.


Brava Annie Lennox!


A Celebration of Women

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