Matters regarding statistical data and gender analysis were the focal point of discussions when Minister in the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Investment, Marsha Caddle, received a courtesy call from Dr. Natalia Kanem, United Nations Under-Secretary-General Executive Director for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
Minister Caddle, whose portfolio includes the Statistical Department, noted that gender analysis provides valuable information on the types of investments needed to improve the lives of men and women individually, adding that Barbados was supportive of the vital work being carried out by the UNFPA which is the United Nations’ sexual and reproductive health agency.
She said that a major focus for the 2020 census was to ensure that economic and social data “line up”.
The Economic Affairs Minister explained: “…For the census, we are very keen to execute it properly but we are also mindful that economic data and social data line-up.… It is important that we have managed to stabilize it from the fiscal side, but similarly, we need to know for sure what people are experiencing. We also need to know not just who is poor now, but who is vulnerable, who doesn’t have access to health care, even though it is available, and what barriers stop them from accessing it.”
She continued: “One of the things that happen in fiscal adjustment programmes is that there is this sense that you have to help everyone equally and there is a resonance about trying to target according to gender. But I say all the time, gender analysis in economic opportunities helps you to understand where investments in women are needed and where investments in men are needed.”
She noted that investment in education was a priority for the country; however, she explained that education went beyond simply retaining persons to earn an income as it also includes human relations.
“Things like how to live together in a family, how to live together in a society and how to relate to each other, basic human relations…. This can only strengthen how people are able to contribute and to be productive,” she outlined, adding that there was an urgent need to teach citizens how to build inter-generational wealth since most countries were battling inter-generational poverty.
UNFPA Executive Director, Dr. Kanem acknowledged that girls deserved investment and said young ladies needed to know that they too, could become ministers one day.
She noted that there was increased global contention around reproductive health issues and stressed there must be “push back against the push back”.
“It is really up to us to explain to the religious figure, to the grandmother, to the traditional chief and to the girl herself in fact, and that is my message,” Dr. Kanem pointed out. She added that her agency was also pushing the message that girls have power and was seeking to encourage them not to be passively unemployed.
During the meeting, the officials discussed the upcoming Nairobi Summit on Population and Development 25, sexual and reproductive health, climate change, as well as women and youth access to education and the labour market. Also in attendance at the courtesy call were Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Investment, Edison Alleyne; Director of the UNFPA Sub-Regional Office for the Caribbean, Alison Drayton and UNFPA Liaison Officer, Denise Blackstock.