Minister of Youth, Family and Sports, Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo

Women in Barbados have assumed increasing responsibilities in the labour market, although they have not been absolved of their roles as care-givers in either the private or public realms.

This is the view of Minister of Youth, Family and Sports, Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo, who said: “This is extremely burdensome on lower income women who lack the resources to pay for assistance. They risk losing their jobs, and the state offers them minimal support.”

She made the comments yesterday while delivering an address at the 53rd Session of the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations Headquarters, New York. She was speaking on the topic, “The Equal Sharing of Responsibilities between Women and Men, including Care-giving in the context of HIV/AIDS”.

Dr. Byer Suckoo told the gathering that the country’s employment figures indicated a closing of the gap between male and female employment, where females account for 48.6 percent of the labour force.

In the area of education, she added, “68 per cent of the enrollment at the University of the West Indies is female and there is near equal enrollment at the primary and secondary school levels. Women also hold significant positions in the judiciary and in some professional fields and are over-represented in clerical and care-giving occupations in conformity with international patterns,” she stated.

The Minister proffered the view that in spite of the absence of anti-discrimination legislation on the basis of gender, successive governments had adopted policies that sought to promote harmonious relationships between the sexes, while developing programmes for the equal benefit of women and men.

She informed the group that Barbados had made significant progress in attaining the Millennium Development Goals on achieving universal primary education, reducing child mortality and improving maternal health. As a result, she said, it had placed the island in the forefront of realising goal number three which is promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women.

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