If everything goes according to plan, Barbados should have a National Policy on Gender by June 2013.
This disclosure has come from Director of the Bureau of Gender Affairs, Patricia Hackett-Codrington, who said the Caribbean Policy Development Centre had been awarded the consultancy to develop the document.
Mrs. Hackett-Codrington pointed out that the structure for the Policy was currently being prepared. "The consultant has submitted an inception report, which refines the original Terms of Reference and outlines the framework in which they are going to be progressing with the work," she explained.
Emphasising the importance of the document at this time, the Director continued: "Very often interventions are made as responses to emerging issues and without a structured framework; the agency can find itself responding to myriad situations in an ad hoc fashion. So, this policy would set the guidelines for the Bureau and its collaborative partners to understand the context in which they are working; respond from an informed position, and have more clearly defined goals and objectives. At intervals, we will be able to refer to our expected outcomes and see where we are, where we need to redouble our efforts or change course.
"We are seeking to implement our mandate to ensure that a gender perspective is considered in all government’s plans and policies. In this regard, men and women, boys and girls will derive equal and equitable benefits from opportunities available to them and the nation’s human resource capacity will be maximised."
She expressed the view that by bringing gender to the forefront of national policy and legislation, the National Policy on Gender would assist in realising the aspiration of Barbados to become a "fully developed society that is prosperous, socially just and globally competitive".
Gender looks at the social construction of masculinity and femininity, how society allocates roles to men and women, how these roles are valued and how, by playing these roles, a person is advantaged or disadvantaged. Using gender to analyse various areas would assist planners to better implement their programme.
The Policy’s objectives include incorporating the gender mainstreaming process as a strategy to achieving gender justice, while promoting it in all sectors of government and civil society. It also aims to strengthen relations between the sexes, particularly in understanding traditional gender roles, and emphasise the need to change these roles and responsibilities in response to differences in this island’s social and economic relations.
??A total of 13 thematic areas will be addressed and they are: crime and violence, poverty, education, employment, power and decision-making, health, family life, housing, sexuality, disaster risk mitigation, legislation, culture, language and religion and capacity building of the gender machinery.
Mrs. Hackett-Codrington explained: "We also want the consultant to look at these areas and advise on how we should treat to them… For example, issues of health with the gender component will be done in the Ministry of Health, but we will be better able to understand how to work with that Ministry to bring the context of gender into its planning and programmes.
"Our role is to look at all government plans and programmes to ensure that they have gender on board as a construct and, therefore, if we understand what is happening across the areas, then we can work with the other agencies to inform their work from a gender perspective."
The Director said she was "extremely happy" that the work had started on the policy and looked forward to the Bureau’s stakeholders giving their input, "so that we can produce the kind of document which will guide the development of gender mainstreaming across the society".
Mrs. Hackett-Codrington noted that as work on the Policy progresses, members of the public will be able to share their views during a number of town hall meetings and she encouraged them to capitalise on the opportunity.
So, each Barbadian should join the Bureau of Gender Affairs in eagerly awaiting the completion of the National Policy on Gender, since it will guide the development of gender mainstreaming across our country to the benefit of all our people.