Minister of Youth, Family and Sports, Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo (FP)

Government will soon be putting in place a public education and promotion exercise to increase male participation in care-giving activities.

This disclosure has come from Minister of Youth, Family and Sports, Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo, who said Barbados was committed to the process of encouraging more men to be involved in care-giving and that the proposal would be undertaken in the new financial year which starts in April, 2009.

She made the remarks yesterday, while speaking at the 53rd Session of the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations Headquarters, New York. She was addressing the topic: “The Equal Sharing of Responsibilities between Women and Men, including Care-Giving in the context of HIV/AIDS”.

Dr. Byer Suckoo told the gathering: “We will work with social institutions to promote this initiative. Government will also ensure that the benefits accrued are fully appreciated by all concerned.”

Explaining that as in most patriarchal societies, Barbadian men did not generally share responsibility for providing care to children or relatives, she pointed out, however, that in recent years there had been a steady increase in men who were performing care-giving roles, particularly in relation to their children.

“More men are taking their children to school, to the doctor and lending support in recreational and sporting events. The absence of time-use surveys prevents us having the empirical evidence to indicate among which groups of men this practice is more prevalent,” the Minister stated.

She added that in the context of HIV/AIDS, men’s involvement in care was also difficult to ascertain in the absence of appropriate studies. She noted, however, that government, in association with non-governmental organisations, and regional and international agencies, had embarked on a series of programmes to modify the concept of masculinity to reduce men’s risk of contracting HIV. “The altered ideological perceptions would promote greater involvement in non-traditional roles,” she opined.

Dr. Byer Suckoo said men were being encouraged to join the staff of home care workers who provide home-based services to the elderly, chronically ill and disabled clients. She added that the 16 HIV/AIDS Community Committees all had a complement of men among their ranks who encouraged community personnel to participate in providing services to People Living With HIV/AIDS on a voluntary basis.

“This is in an effort to increase the numbers of males who provide care services at both the community and institutional levels. Success has been greater in the volunteer sector, but limited in the paid sector as wages are low when compared to traditional male occupations,” she told the group.

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