Minister of Labour, Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo??

Unpaid caregivers who provide support and assist Persons Living with HIV (PLHIV) provide a critical service which cannot be measured in terms of dollars and cents.

This assertion has come from Minister of Labour, Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo, who said that despite its limitations, unpaid work constituted one of the biggest contributions women make to the economy and by extension, was an invaluable resource against HIV.

Speaking during the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association’s (CPA) workshop on "HIV/AIDS and Unpaid Care Work" at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre last weekend, the Labour Minister noted unpaid caregivers, usually women, are the first line of defence between PLHIV and the harsh economic and social realities.

"Our formal systems would be unable to cope with caring for PLHIV if not for the women who shoulder the burden of caring for their significant others, family and friends…The scarcity of skilled manpower in certain key sectors, for example, the shortage of nurses, means that a heightened reliance on out-patient care is dependent on the presence of a caregiver in the home to take care of the patient," the former Minister of Family Affairs pointed out.

According to Dr. Byer Suckoo, many persons do not place value on unpaid labour, assuming that work only constitutes a nine-to-five activity for which remuneration is received.

She observed that this perception of "real work" being outside of the home ignored the reality of many Barbadian and Caribbean women who looked after the household, raised children and took care of their families in times of sickness and health.

\Dr. Byer Suckoo also suggested that policies must be put in place to cater to this vulnerable group of workers.

"Unpaid caregivers…, in our culture, are the mothers, grandmothers, sisters, aunts and cousins. They may also be heads of households and main breadwinners. If they lose jobs or social support on account of caregiving, the entire family can easily slip into poverty," she remarked.

The CPA workshop was a part of the 9th Women’s Affairs Ministers Meeting Partners Forum.??askeete@barbados.gov.bb

Author: Andr?? Skeete

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