Right on the heels of a week spent in London to celebrate her winning the top prize in this year’s Commonwealth Essay Competition, 19-year-old Katherine McIndoe attended a reception on Friday morning in the Grand Hall at Parliament House in Wellington, New Zealand.

The reception was held to welcome the Queen’s Baton Relay (QBR) team, who recently arrived on New Zealand shores. Along with the Queen’s Baton, the QBR team has also been carrying a Baton Book through every country and territory they pass through. This Baton Book (a beautifully illustrated symbol of Commonwealth citizenship) will be delivered to the 100 participants of the 33Fifty programme, which was just launched yesterday at the University of Edinburgh.

As the Baton Book is taken along the relay route throughout the Commonwealth, young people have been leaving a message in the book that the 33Fifty delegates will be asked to consider at the beginning of their 4-day programme in Scotland next July. Their messages are about a challenge in the Commonwealth that they believe needs to be addressed. So far, signatories have written about a range of issues, including those relating to girls’ education, climate change, and people with disabilities.

Today, Katherine added her message to the 33Fifty Baton Book: “I urge the Commonwealth to take bold action to end gender inequality around the globe. Women and girls everywhere have the right to live free of violence and discrimination, and must have equal opportunities for education and health care. Please use the strength and diversity of the Commonwealth so that all women can live with confidence, joy, and hope”.

Katherine’s message echoes her winning essay, entitled “To boldly go”: a letter to the lost girls, which was a powerful and eloquent exposition on gender discrimination across the globe. You can read Katherine’s powerful essay here.