Barbados’ Principal Delegate and Vice President of the Inter-American Commission of Women/Organization of American States (CIM/OAS), Senator Irene Sandiford-Garner (left, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, NULL, NULL, 0); Minister of Family, Stephen Lashley; and President of the National Organisation of Women, Marilyn Rice-Bowen, in discussion at the colloquium. (A. Miller/BGIS)

Although women have achieved equal status in many areas of endeavour, there are still "glaring gender gaps" in certain professions.

This view was expressed by Barbados’ Principal Delegate and Vice President of the Inter-American Commission of Women/Organization of American States (CIM/OAS), Senator Irene Sandiford-Garner, who said the gaps were being seen "where there may be one woman among the dozens of male directors and partners, or in politics where there are still inequities in numbers".

Senator Sandiford-Garner made the comments today as she addressed a colloquium hosted by the Bureau of Gender Affairs and the National Organisation of Women to observe International Women’s Day, which is celebrated every year on March 8.

She told her audience, which included the young women participating in the discussions: "The absence of your voices is cause for concern because I am persuaded you are part of the generation that has been lulled into a false sense of complacency by accepting the much vaunted argument that Barbadian women are now on par with men at every level, and equality is no longer an ideal women need to strive toward. This is a fallacy."

She continued: "… So, what we attempted to do today was to amplify the conversation at the national level by inviting female leaders from specific professions where our presence is negligible or where we are missing in action completely, at the highest levels of management and ownership."

The CIM/OAS Delegate underscored the importance of the gathering, saying it would allow the participants to map progress, identify challenges and propose strategies as to how the gender gap in leadership in those professions could be narrowed, among other things.

"It is hoped that when you leave this activity today, you go away with a real sense of what women have achieved in Barbados, and with the understanding of what is expected of you as you step out into the world to make your mark. You will not be expected to settle for second place when you leave here. You should be inspired," Senator Sandiford-Garner suggested.

President of the National Organisation of Women, Marilyn Rice-Bowen, said the theme of this year’s celebrations, Connecting Girls – Inspiring Futures, should cause women to pause for introspection and evaluate their progress and achievements. She is of the view that they should ask themselves if, in their succession planning, they had provided space for the young women in their organisation and if they had embraced inter-generational leadership.

Mrs. Rice-Bowen stated: "Ladies, the answers reside with us, the strength of the connection lies in our hands, therefore, …I wish to use this forum to extend the challenge to all and appeal for the creation of more space for our girls."

She promised that a networking session for the young women would be held in another four to six months so those hosting the colloquium could meet again and review their progress.

The President pointed out that women played a critical role throughout all disciplines. "Barbados can proudly claim that our female compass is strong, vibrant and resourceful and our girls can easily access these beacons of success for guidance and mentorship," she assured the gathering.

Presenters for the day were the highest gazetted female police officer in the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force, Assistant Superintendent Kamecia Blake; Caribbean Feminist Scholar and PhD candidate in Gender and Development Studies at the University of the West Indies, Tonya Haynes; Audit Partner at Ernst & Young, Lisa Padmore; and Agriculturalist Adelle Harewood-Young.


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