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Observing International Women’s Day 2018 at the CARICOM Secretariat

The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat joined the world in observing International Women’s Day last Thursday. A Forum under the theme Gender Equality: A Pre requisite for Progress was organised by the Human and Social Development  (HSD) Directorate of the Secretariat and the Secretariat’s Staff Association at the Georgetown-based headquarters.

In remarks at the Forum, Mr. Timothy Odle, President of the Staff Association pointed out that 66% of the staff members at the Secretariat were highly skilled and trained women.

CARICOM Deputy Secretary-General, Ambassador Manorma Soeknandan PhD., in her remarks, focused on gender-based violence in the Region and impressed upon the gathering the need to examine their values and parenting skills. 

HSD Director, Ms. Myrna Bernard added that every day – not only on International Women’s Day (IWD) – we must be mindful that as a Region we have made progress and continue to press for progress. Press for progress was the theme for IWD 2018.

Featured speaker was Ann-Marie Williams, Deputy Programme Manager for Gender and Development at the CARICOM Secretariat.

In her presentation, she asked the audience to reflect on the facts that:

  • Women make up more than half the world’s population; do two thirds of the world’s work; receive one third of the world’s pay and own less than one hundredth of its property.
  • Currently there is no female Prime Minister in the 15-member CARICOM
  • Over the 103-year history of Rotary International, women were only allowed to become members of the all boys club in the Caribbean 31 years ago.
  • Nowhere in the world do women enjoy the same rights as men.

Increasing global awareness of these and other inequities between women and men was one of the goals of observing International Women’s Day and the United Nations Decade for Women (1976-1985).

Ms. Williams added that while much progress had been achieved, it was uneven. She drew attention to the fact that the Caribbean suffered heavily from gender-based violence, trafficking and unemployment, and that women were disproportionately affected. A lively discussion followed the presentations.

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