Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley has disclosed that Barbados’ family court, which will be established next year, will not be adversarial in nature, but rather developmental.
Ms. Mottley made this disclosure during a recent courtesy call by a team from the UN-Women’s Executive Board, led by President of the Latin American and Caribbean Group, Pennelope Beckles.
She told the UN-Women’s delegation, which included Vice President of the Eastern European Group, Katalin Annamária Bogyay and Vice President of the African Group, Koki Muli Grignon, that although its establishment was delayed, the family court remained a priority for government.
Stressing that she believed court reform was critical, Ms. Mottley noted that a developmental framework would be put in place to address the rights of children, parents and other parties involved.
She also appealed for technical assistance to review and assist with rectifying gender discrimination within Barbadian legislation.
The Prime Minister, who was accompanied by Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Jerome Walcott and Minister of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs, Cynthia Forde, also spoke to creating gender equality within society.
She said although women in Barbados had made great strides in achieving gender equality and were in more leadership roles, she strongly believed more needed to be done to elevate women at the grassroots level.
She told the delegation that the power dynamics within some families, households and communities resulted in too many women “feeling unequally yoked”.
Stating that she has long advocated for grassroots women, she said: “The battle is really at the household and community levels. The push back is that more females are graduating from university, but the battle remains to be fought.
“We have to build blocks of empowerment and instill in women and girls the importance of saying no and how to get themselves out of vulnerable situations. Most of our children are born to single women; we need to empower these women to negotiate and earn.”
Ms. Mottley also pointed out that gender balance was important and said she was pleased to report that more men in Barbados were taking their parental responsibilities seriously.
“They are proud to care for their children and some are single men too. Men are more nurturing and protective of their kids,” she opined, adding that her government was establishing a transformational framework which aims to “save” 500 families by moving them out of inter-generational poverty.
Other issues discussed included domestic violence and the impact of climate change on vulnerable communities and countries.
President Beckles lauded Barbados for its continued support of UN-Women, as far back as when it was UNIFEM.
She commended government for formalizing the Standard Basic Assistance Agreement between Barbados and the United Nations Development Programme.
In addition, she congratulated Barbados for the strides it was making towards the establishment of a family court and offered technical assistance to make it a reality.