Bahamas reports steady progress in improving situation of women

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Melanie Griffin

Despite high unemployment, rising crime and socio-economic woes arising from the global financial crisis and natural disasters, The Bahamas had steadily improved the lot of its women through a range of legal reforms, awareness-raising campaigns and action plans. That's what Minister of Social Services Melanie Griffin said as she presented her country's combined first through fourth and fifth periodic reports to the Committee, which monitors the compliance of States parties with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

Ms. Griffin told the Committee that "We have surpassed the goal in terms of universal primary education, and have made considerable progress in the area of gender equality."

Ms. Griffin: In spite of many socio-economic challenges stemming from the world's economic and financial crises, as well as challenges posed by natural disasters, we are on target t meet a number of the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. We have surpassed the goal in terms of Universal Primary Education and have made considerable progress in the area of gender equality. Notwithstanding high pressing concerns such as high unemployment and increasing crime rate, which are not exclusive to The Bahamas, my government is committed to maintaining the momentum required for the achievement of gender equality. As the Minister of Social Services with responsibility for the Bureau of Women's Affairs, I assure you that I am committed to the further advancement and protection of the rights of women. The Bahamas is in a position to boast an unprecedented level of engagement, relative to gender equality and the empowerment of women. We are cognizant of the fact that both the reporting and review exercises offer States/parties a unique opportunity to meaningfully engage, evaluate and address the disparities faced by women throughout the world. Further, we welcome the efforts undertaken by the High Commissioner for Human Rights towards the enhancement of the Human Rights Treaty Body System and their reporting processes, which hopefully, will take adequately into account, the overwhelming burden of multiple and constant reporting placed on small States such as The Bahamas which lack the requisite capacity and technical resources for such reporting.

According to Minister Melanie Griffin, the key to determining the overall impact of CEDAW in The Bahamas was to explore the country's accomplishments and challenges in a realistic, frank and honest manner. She said that though obstacles remain in achieving total equality between the sexes, her government was committed to action towards that end.

Ms. Griffin: One of the most notable developments relates directly to The Bahamas' Bureau of Women's Affairs. It is the plan of my government to elevate the bureau to a department. Once in effect, this change should have a significant impact on the scope and reach of the national machinery in the implementation of the convention which will be facilitated and enhanced by the appointment of a director and an increase in budgetary, human and other resources. Indeed, there has been a significant increase in the bureau's budget for the 2012/2013 fiscal year in preparation for this change. In addition, thanks to the invaluable assistance of the regional office of the UN Population Fund and other national and regional bodies, as well as domestic, public and private stakeholders, The Bahamas is currently in the final stages of consultation and review of its draft national gender policy which should be submitted to cabinet in the next two to three months. We envision that this will be the harmonizing element and on which The Bahamas clearly states and implements its policy on gender equality.

 Minister Griffin said The Bahamas was committed to ending gender-based violence by educating young women and girls through a multi-pronged approach that would ensure that no form of violence was acceptable.

This is Donn Bobb reporting.

Duration: 3’58″

Filed under Caribbean News.
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