Director of the Bureau of Gender Affairs, Patricia Hackett-Codrington (FP)
Barbadian men and women are being encouraged to show each other more respect and support and work together for the successful development of this nation.
Acknowledging that men and women are distinctly different because of their biological make up, the new Director of the Bureau of Gender Affairs, Patricia Hackett-Codrington, stressed though that they are both equally endowed and one is not better than the other.
"Men need to empower themselves and women need to empower themselves. But, men can work to facilitate the process of gender equity by accepting that power can be shared and that no one person has to hold control over the other," Mrs. Hackett-Codrington said.
Her comments came as Barbados joined the global community today to observe International Women’s Day.
Mrs. Hackett-Codrington is of the view that more can be done to improve the relationship between man and woman. "There are still the difficulties that exist between the construction of masculinity and how this impacts on women, as well as the construction of femininity and how men perceive women. Therefore, a lot of work still has to be done in getting both men and women to understand that … they have equal rights to exist, equal rights to participate and equal rights for their own self determination," she emphasised.??
In addition, the Director wants more women to have positive views of themselves. "Some women see themselves as important, but there are others who feel they can’t function unless a man is in the picture and sometimes they go off in directions that create more confusion and difficulties for them, than if they had operated within their own strengths.
"I want those women to take control of their own lives in order that they can move forward and even help their families and by extension, their significant other," she stated.
During a wide-ranging interview, the Director noted that even though some Barbadian women had been successful in their careers and moved to the top, the bulk of women still remained in poverty. She said a high percentage of them were heads of households, had low-paying jobs and several children to support.
In addition, the offcial pointed out that domestic violence continues to be a major concern and expressed the view that more work must be done in the area. "We have to look to see what other programmes can be introduced to prevent persons from getting into this particular situation. We also have to look at a programme for perpetrators because it makes no sense treating part of the problem, there have to be several interventions in order to bring some correction to the entire dilemma," Mrs. Hackett-Codrington stressed.
She is also of the opinion that work must be done at the community level to sensitise persons to gender relations in an effort to curb domestic violence.
"In the home you [sometimes] learn certain behaviour … then you go into another situation and take what you learn and it moves from the home to the wider community…
Domestic violence is systemic, but it is also related to wider societal violence, so we cannot give up trying all kinds of interventions to solve that issue," Mrs. Codrington-Hackett maintained.
So, with so many issues to be dealt with, it is clear that some work still has to be done to improve gender relations in Barbados, like several other societies across the world. We can be like the proverbial ostrich and bury our head in the sand or we can remember why we were created, appreciate our differences and join hands in going forward to make our island a better home for boys and girls who will come after us.
In the interim, the Bureau of Gender Affairs will continue to empower men and women, so they can iron out the ???kinks’ in their relationships and achieve a level of harmony that would ultimately redound to the benefit of this country.