Minister in the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Investment, Marsha Caddle. (FP)

Minister in the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Investment, Marsha Caddle, has indicated that more must be done to tackle systematic challenges, in order to ensure women have equal opportunity in all spheres of endeavour.

She expressed the view while delivering the keynote address at the opening of a roundtable discussion, this morning, organised by the Caribbean Development Bank in the lead up to International Women’s Day on March 8. The topic was: Women in Leadership: Achieving An Equal Future In A COVID-19 World.

According to Minister Caddle, advocacy for equal representation may appear absurd to some, especially at a time when more women were taking up various leadership roles in Barbados, and the wider world. 

However, she contended that such action was necessary, given that women tend to face some form of exclusion rooted in “entrenched and institutionalised inequality”.

“Knowing the numbers is important. Increasing the numbers is important, but numerical representation does not in itself transform into outcomes for women, unless systemic inequality is also dismantled. It is not just people as individuals who reflect the norms by which we’ve been socialised. Institutions reflect those same norms; patterns of economic behaviour reflect those same norms, and regrettably often, policy making reflects the same norms,” Minister Caddle explained. 

“Knowing the numbers is important. Increasing the numbers is important, but numerical representation does not in itself transform into outcomes for women, unless systemic inequality is also dismantled. It is not just people as individuals who reflect the norms by which we’ve been socialised. Institutions reflect those same norms; patterns of economic behaviour reflect those same norms, and regrettably often, policy making reflects the same norms.”

Minister in the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Investment, Marsha Caddle

“In other words, often, by the time women enter these phases, patterns of inequality are entrenched. That is why increasing levels of women’s participation can and does exist alongside lower levels of women’s labour force participation, which is the number of women working in the formal market. It is also why high enrollment and achievement at the University of the West Indies and other tertiary institutions exists alongside higher levels of poverty in female headed households,” she added.

Making it clear that it was not her intention to stereotype, or engage in male-bashing, Minister Caddle noted the importance of women’s input in the development of policies geared towards gender equality.

“Gender equitable policy-making is more likely when women are at the table… because women make visible the differences in experience among different groups of people. Women’s leadership can be transformational because it tends to be participatory, consultative, inclusive of new ideas and different perspectives, and experimental….

“This is not to perpetuate stereotypes. Men’s leadership can and has been all these things, but the point is unless women are at the table, we will not have these examples of leadership and benefit from the differences,” the Minister said.

With that in mind, she emphasised that leadership, regardless of gender, should bring about positive long-term transformation, which is beneficial to all groups.

nya.phillips@barbados.gov.bb

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