Earlier this week, Annie Lennox was one of the speakers at Westminster Abbey in the presence of HRH Queen Elizabetth II and The Duke Of Edinburgh to  mark Commonwealth Day. This is the annual celebration of the Commonwealth of Nations – the centre-piece of the day is a multi-faith service at Westminster Abbey held with The Royal Commonwealth Society, and this year’s theme is Women Agents of Change.  This weeks Memorabilia Of The Week items are the invitation and brochure given to the attendees of the event.

With thanks to Tyler Warfield who attended the event for providing the images. Below you can read a clear transcript of Annie’s presentation.

The Address by Annie Lennox OBE

I’d like to take this opportunity to highlight a recent experience, which, for me, brought home the importance of why we are all here today, celebrating the union we know as “the Commonwealth”.

My first visit overseas as an envoy for the Scottish branch of the Commonwealth parliamentary Association had a particular personal relevance, as it brought together my advocacy work on HIV/AIDs, and the long standing relationship between my birthplace of Scotland and the country of Malawi.

The connection between both countries stretches back over the centuries, to the time when David Livingstone, the explorer and medic, first recognised the link between mosquitoes and malaria.

Today, the enduring sense of friendship and co-operation between Scotland and Malawi is an example of the Commonwealth at its best.

It is also a partnership that is helping to tackle many issues, most crucially for me, the spread of HIV/AIDs and the task of caring for mothers and children affected by this terrible pandemic.

The grim fact we must face is that 24 million Commonwealth citizens are living with HIV today. That’s 60% of all those infected with the virus around the world.

Women account for more than half of all adults newly infected by HIV and it is only by equipping, supporting, and empowering women that we can begin to turn the tide.

During my trip, I was honoured to meet members of the recently formed Malawian Women’s Caucus in the Parliament building itself. I was impressed and encouraged by their obvious commitment to affect the right type of change, to influence the right policies, to ultimately bring about the right type of progress.

Along with dedicated NGOs, individuals from civil society., and faith groups. The Women’s Caucus stands out as a powerful example of women acting as Agents of Change.

The challenges faced are immensely complex. But a union of ideas, stretching out across country borders, can help to find common solutions to our shared challenges.

My visit to Malawi helped me to begin to appreciate the unique reach and potential of the Commonwealth. There’s so much to be done, but with willpower vision and commitment, I believe that positive changes can, and absolutely must be achieved.