There’s a need to ensure that women are given opportunities to acquire new skills, so that during an economic crisis they can remain employed or even venture into new areas.

This view was expressed by Government’s Advisor on Poverty Eradication, Undene Whittaker, who stated that "women formed part of the vulnerable group and it was important to recognise that along with women, the disabled and the indigent …these groups should be given special attention…"

According to her, women comprised a large proportion of the world’s population, even larger than those of men and "because they also outlived men, naturally it would mean that they contributed quite a bit more to the economy of the country."

Ms. Whittaker’s comments come as Barbados gets ready to host the 9th Commonwealth Women’s Affairs Ministers Meeting, which will be held from June 7 to 9 at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.

While she admitted that it was vital for women to be provided with opportunities for training and retraining, the poverty advisor also alluded to other pertinent issues that women faced such as domestic violence.

"It [domestic violence] becomes more prominent during a recession for all the psycho-social reasons. [Therefore] we need to ensure that legislation is amended and that it speaks to the issues that confront women; things like protection orders, they need to be amended so that they are given the full weighting of the law for the issues of domestic violence that would arise," she underscored.

Ms. Whittaker identified age discrimination as a topic of concern among women, particularly those over 45 and 50 years. She maintained that "very often" she was asked to find employment for persons who had reached the age where they were "deemed unable to contribute where younger persons could," and this too was troubling.

The poverty advisor also intimated that HIV/AIDS was one of the leading priority issues among women that needed to be addressed, citing lack of education and understanding as two of the main reasons for the spread of the disease.??tblackman@barbados.gov.bb

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