Minister of Family, Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo, in conversation with former Assistant Director of Sports at the National Sports Council, Kathy Harper-Hall; while educator, Eudora Mascoll, looks on. (Image: A. Miller/BGIS)Minister of Family, Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo, has underscored that having women in decision-making positions or in Parliament did not necessarily translate to real power for those women or others.

She made the comments last evening at the International Women’s Day Rally and Concert in Independence Square. The Minister expressed the view that a lot more

still had to be done in terms of changing the mindset of people to really accept women and what they had to offer.

Dr. Byer Suckoo told the large gathering that there were a number of issues which must be tackled if Barbadian women were to be truly empowered. "Affordable child care is an issue that needs to be dealt with and it is going to be addressed, including night care as well, for those many women who have to work at night, in order to make a living. … Night care is an emerging need and it has to be addressed.

"We have a growing number of women who need assistance with their disabled children, so they can make a living… And, the legislative review continues towards addressing domestic violence and the child support issues which plague so many women in our country," she disclosed.

The Minister urged her audience to remember the women of Haiti and Chile. She said she recently spoke with Haiti’s Minister of Women’s Affairs, who expressed concern for the security of women living in the open, and stressed that tents and supplies were urgently needed.

"The situation in Haiti reinforces that we need to look at the specific health care needs of women in natural disasters as the lack of adequate health care facilities, transportation and sanitary environments jeopardise the lives of women, especially pregnant women. It forces us to recognise how vulnerable we are as women and how easily these gains that we have achieved, can be reversed," Dr. Byer Suckoo stated.

Admitting that women had achieved much success since the 1970’s, she highlighted some of the areas as an increase in women’s access to education, proper health care, and greater participation in the labour force and in the decision-making process. But, she pointed out that despite those successes, more women continued to be counted among the world’s poor and were victims of violence through their vulnerability to rape and sexual abuse.

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