Making gender equality a reality is a central priority for CARICOM States: Guyana

George Talbot

Following a remarkable year in the promotion of gender equality and women's empowerment that was marked by the establishment of UN-Women and the launch of the Secretary-General's Global Strategy for Women's and Children's Health, it was now time to turn the momentum generated in 2010 into clear, tangible gains for women and girls everywhere. That's what delegates told the General Assembly's Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee.

The representative of Guyana, George Talbot, speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said the World Bank's 2012 World Development Report on Gender Equality and Development painted a disturbing picture, stating, among other things, that women represented 40 per cent of the world's labour force, but held just 1 per cent of the world's wealth.

George Talbot: Making gender equality a reality is a central priority for CARICOM States. We believe that the women must become equal and full participants in all processes affecting their lives, if a society characterized by justice, peace and development is to be realized. Our member States therefore continue, individually and collectively, to undertake various initiatives to enhance the status of the women of the Caribbean, based on instruments such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the Millennium Development Goals and the Caribbean Specific MDGs and Targets. Incremental progress has been the result of regional efforts thus far, evidenced by gains in areas such as education, where females outnumber their male counterparts at secondary and tertiary levels. However, cultural and structural factors continue to impede women's access to and control over resources and services, their access to economic opportunities, and their ability to exercise power and political influence.

NAR: Talbot said an assessment of the situation of women in the region conducted by the CARICOM Secretariat suggest a linkage between gender inequalities and discrimination on the one hand and factors such as economic vulnerability of female headed households, the gender burden of care and the higher levels of unemployment and under-employment among women on the other.

George Talbot: Increasing women's participation in politics and decision-making is another challenge for CARICOM States. In spite of the attainment of high levels of education by women, men continue to dominate positions of power and decision-making. The general lack of quota laws on the representation of women in Parliament and the relative unpredictability of the impact that elections can have on the gender distribution in this important decision-making forum, make for uneven progress in this area. The target of 30 percent, as the minimum level of women in decision-making in the political, public and private sectors nevertheless remains a standard for achievement and efforts are ongoing to increase the quantitative and qualitative participation of women in leadership. The health status of women, as that of the society as a whole, is a source of perennial concern. The Beijing Platform and Programme of Action clearly articulates women's rights to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. Across the region, emphasis is being placed on increasing the access of women to health services.

NAR: Guyana's Charge d'Affaires George Talbot noted that the situation of women in rural areas must remain a priority, given that the overwhelming majority of the world's women and girls lived in rural areas. He said CARICOM women played a significant role in agriculture and food production and were directly affected by the unfavourable terms of international trade in such areas.

This is Donn Bobb reporting.

Duration:

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