In order to stimulate meaningful growth in housing, employment, and education, emphasis must be placed on sensitising the private and public sectors on the importance of gender equality.

This is according to Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Social Care, Constituency Empowerment and Community Development, Ernesta Drakes, who was speaking at a symposium entitled Gender in Urban Planning: Mainstreaming Gender in Housing, Employment and Education, held recently in the Bridgetown Conference Room of the Baobab Towers, Warrens, St. Michael.

The Permanent Secretary pointed out that while Barbados had come a long way and while it maintained a high level of human development, gender equality continued to be a challenge for the country.

According to her, statistics indicate that although girls out-perform boys in school and more women than men are enrolled in university, in most cases men still fall into a higher economic earning bracket than women.

Ms. Drakes added that it was also common knowledge that unemployment and poor education contributed to poverty and that poverty was concentrated among female-headed households, with the rate being 19.4% compared with 11.5% in male-headed households.

???Forty-seven percent of all households are headed by women and women tend to be employed in the service, shop workers and clerks??? categories, which generally attract lower wages???, she underscored.

The Permanent Secretary also stated that it was imperative that Barbadians embraced gender equality as a national outcome, as they continued on the path of national development.

To this end, she asked participants to ponder whether there was more that could be done to allow women to participate in higher earning categories.

Participants at the symposium included architects, engineers and persons in the business sector.

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