Minister in the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Investment, Marsha Caddle. (FP)

Minister in the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Investment, Marsha Caddle, has highlighted the importance of gender-based analysis to the creation of policies and programmes to benefit society.

“This kind of analysis highlights inequalities where they exist. So, when I seek sex disaggregated data, or age disaggregated data, etc. for gender analysis, it is not just to find out what is happening with women and set aside the others. It is to understand the kind of programmes which will reach women; what kind will reach men, and how either group may be disadvantaged by a set of policies that do not take them into account,” she stated.

Minister Caddle gave the explanation as she delivered the keynote address at a roundtable discussion on the topic: Women in Leadership: Achieving An Equal Future In A COVID-19 World. It was organised by the Caribbean Development Bank, as part of activities for International Women’s Day on March 8.

She said such information has been instrumental in the development of Government’s COVID-19 response strategies.

The Minister revealed that analysis of statistics collected in 2020 during the first wave of the pandemic, showed an overall decrease in employment among men and women. However, it was observed that women were severely affected when compared to male counterparts, due to the direct impact of the pandemic on the hotel, restaurant and retail sectors.

Ms. Caddle added that the analysis of the National Insurance claims during the second wave currently being experienced, provided an in depth view of the situation.

“In these sectors, there is roughly a 2:1 ratio of women to men across the sectors, and there was a 2:1 ratio of those laid off during this last lockdown – 2,753 women to 1,535 men.

“This information has formed the basis of our policy making. We knew that we had to target job retention as a pandemic economic policy. This is why we developed the Barbados Employment and Sustainable Transformation Programme for the re-engagement of workers, as well as their training, not just in hospitality but in transferable skills that would improve their flexibility between sectors,” the Minister pointed out.

“This kind of analysis highlights inequalities where they exist. So, when I seek sex disaggregated data, or age disaggregated data, etc. for gender analysis, it is not just to find out what is happening with women and set aside the others. It is to understand the kind of programmes which will reach women; what kind will reach men, and how either group may be disadvantaged by a set of policies that do not take them into account.”

Minister in the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Investment, Marsha Caddle

As it relates to the small business sector, females also topped the list of small-business owners affected by the pandemic. Minister Caddle said this was evident in data collected from the Trust Loans programme, Fund Access and other financial support initiatives which cater to that sector.

“And many of these women-owned businesses we judged to be otherwise profitable and growing. In other words, pre-pandemic, the credit they had accessed was being serviced; their businesses were expanding in terms of product offering and employment. If they had been no necessary closure brought on by the pandemic, these small businesses would be thriving,” she explained.

Minister Caddle noted that it was against this background that Government introduced a small business waive subsidy, and a self-employment benefit to provide aid to small businesses. “We’re making forbearance arrangements with both public and private sector creditors,” she added.

The Minister reiterated Government’s commitment to maintaining the social safety net, despite the challenging financial climate.

“In the midst of our fiscal strengthening programme, we have ring-fenced our social safety net from cuts. We have established a Social Protection Spending Floor for $15 million annually, and allocated new resources for cash and in-kind transfers through a new household survival programme, and through increases to the Welfare Department,” she stated.

Minister Caddle also outlined Government’s efforts in honouring its responsibility to provide care for all.

“We established Community Health Liaison Officers, who visit households to understand the health and well-being profile of persons in the home, and we have allocated $3.7 million since the pandemic began to this role.
More recently, under the Ministry of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs, we’ve allocated $6.3 million to the Community Elder Care Programme, a programme that engages a group of workers, separately from the resources of the National Assistance Board, who visit households with elderly individuals and others requiring special attention,” she disclosed.

Minister Caddle noted that Government would continue to explore new and innovative ways to “support the household economy”, given these challenging times.

nya.phillips@barbados.gov.bb

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