Having gender-sensitive policies is an important consideration for ministries of finance in setting budgets, meeting fiscal targets and allocating resources.
Minister in the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Investment, Marsha Caddle, made this point as she participated in the virtual UN Women Multi-Country Office – Caribbean Media Takeover Instagram Live entitled: Why Do You Lead? as part of activities to mark International Women’s Day today.
Ms. Caddle highlighted the attention Government paid to policies to address women’s burden of care, particularly as it relates to newborns and maternity leave.
“…We are…expanding that to look overall at parental leave…. We’re going to help men/women deal with this care responsibility as a unit, because that is what is going to be important for women,” she stated.
The Minister added that it was important to encourage families to share care responsibility for newborns, explaining that such measures would assist women in dedicating some of their time to expanding their choices.
She further pointed out that the COVID-19 pandemic had also raised gender-sensitive concerns related to the employment of men and women.
Ms. Caddle explained that in the main sectors affected – tourism, restaurants and retail – women represented a two-to-one ratio in each, and were also employed at a higher rate of two to one.
“And so, a lot of the policies that we came up with were about how do we make sure that we re-engage women,” she said, noting that their finances usually went back into education and the health of the household.
She stressed that it was important to ensure that women had the necessary resources not just to provide for their families, but also to meet their own productive potential.
During her presentation, Ms. Caddle also highlighted the issue of domestic violence, which she said she raised in Parliament as another “public health emergency”.
She expressed the view that addressing gender-based violence and other forms of inequality started from the time children were born, with schools, and how behaviour was modelled for children.
“We seem to have this persistent issue…which is protection of our bodies, that we are still grappling with….I feel it is a part of my responsibility as this new generation of politician, to be able to leave something behind in that regard to make sure that we are really able to address this in a way that brings about real change,” the Minister stated.