Gender issues on their mind: Minister of Family, Stephen Lashley, in conversation with Chairperson of the Commonwealth Foundation, Simone De Comarmond and Director of??UNIFEM, Roberta Clarke.??

Civil society and Government must continue to work closely if they are to successfully address the gender issues that will arise as a result of the recession.

That’s the word from Minister of Youth, Family and Sports, Stephen Lashley, who said their economic policies must take gender disparities into account if their economies were to continue to grow and develop.

He made the comments today while delivering an address at the opening of the Partners Forum, which is a gathering of civil society organisations in the Commonwealth. This two-day meeting is being held at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre and is a precursor to the 9th Commonwealth Women’s Affairs Ministers Meeting which will start here on Monday, June 7.

Women’s advocates Maisie Barker-Welch??and Marva Alleyne listening attentively to the speakers.

The Minister told the gathering that "despite the challenges brought about by the recession, it is an excellent opportunity to implement new initiatives, create new strategies and develop new partnerships". He urged the participants to share their successes, best practices and challenges as they seek to place women’s interests and needs at the centre of the agenda.

Mr. Lashley noted that entrepreneurship had been identified as an alternative, as economies, based on tourism, were being severely affected as a result of the ravages of the recession. "Entrepreneurial women will need to be supportive of each other in an effort to grow their businesses. Our cultures and our economies might be different, but this economic recession has taught us that we have to reinvest by cooperating with each other if we are to overcome the economic challenges," he stated.

Mr. Lashley pointed out that global research had shown that women bore a disproportionate burden of the world’s poverty and as a result, they were more likely than men to be poor or the first to be made redundant in adverse conditions.

Meanwhile, a Gender Hub and exhibition have been set up in the foyer of the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre for the Partners Forum and the public is invited to visit this Saturday and Sunday.????saustin@barbados.gov.bb

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