Focus On Gender Issues

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Gender inequalities and the effect they have on both men and women was the focus this morning, as the Barbados Country Gender Assessment (CGA) National Stakeholder Workshop was held at the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), Wildey, St. Michael.

Representatives from the CDB, Bureau of Gender Affairs, the Ministry of Social Care and other stakeholder organisations, gathered to discuss the findings of the draft CGA, which will inform the implementation of gender equality strategies of CDB and its partners in this country.

Social Care Minister, Steve Blackett, noted that, just as a national stand was taken to reduce HIV infections and deaths, similar energy must be used to address gender-based violence, since it has proven to be one of the most pervasive forms of infringement on the human rights mainly of women but also men.

???Since this violence occurs within the home and spills over into the society, it proves difficult to counter unless we continue to address attitudes and opinions. We recognise that the most difficult change to implement is the change in ideology and this will require time. It will not change overnight but the work must go on,??? Mr. Blackett stressed.

With the Government of Barbados having joined the global shift from ???women???s issues??? to ???gender issues???, Minister Blackett explained that this gender mainstreaming highlighted the point that such issues were everyone???s concern. ???We have, therefore, tried to respond to the identified practical and strategic needs of our men and women.

???In response, we have sought to change the language of our constitution; we have tried to repeal our antiquated laws which no longer fit into our modern day society or our projected hope for the future. We have also introduced new laws to address new challenges and situations such as human trafficking which threatens the human rights of both women and men,??? he said, adding that the goal was not to infringe upon the rights of either gender.

CDB???s Officer-in-Charge of the Projects Department, Deidre Clarendon, explained that her agency???s supportive role in this endeavour was linked to the Bank???s mission to promote economic growth and the systematic reduction of poverty throughout the region.

???Poverty reduction is the central mandate of CDB???The issues highlighted in the Country Assessments are very important, as access to reliable data is critical to enable the Bank to carry out its mandate effectively???However, as we all know, access to robust data and information on the nature and characteristic of inequality???is very limited and many times, our information???is based on ???gut feeling???.

??????We need to do much better at making more evidence based decision making???In an effort to address this data gap in our gender analysis, in 2010, CDB provided resources for BMCs [borrowing member countries] to conduct country gender assessments in 10 countries,??? she said, explaining that such studies were done in 2011 for Anguilla, Belize and St. Lucia, while Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada and St. Kitts and Nevis were completed in 2013.

In addition to Barbados, the CGA exercise will be carried out in Montserrat and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Findings in the draft documents revealed that in Barbados, women represent the majority of people who earn less than $500 a week, while the majority of men earn $500 a week and upwards in all income brackets. In addition, poverty is concentrated among households headed by women, standing at 19.4 per cent versus 11.5 per cent for male-headed households.

Evidence also suggests that, across the region, areas of imbalance include gender biases in education and labour and ingrained gender biases in institutional, legal and accountability mechanisms for the promotion of gender equality.

The CGA was conducted via review and analyses of socio-economic data and research, consultation and interviews with 109 stakeholders in 59 organisations in Barbados.

nekaelia.hutchinson@barbados.gov.bb

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