Gender

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Kim Simplis Barrow and Reema Carmona participated in the subregional consultation organized by UN agencies and partners in Barbados for the adaptation of the Global Strategy to the context of the Caribbean (EWEC:LAC)

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Jun 04 2017 – The wife of Belize’s Prime Minister, Kim Simplis Barrow, and the First Lady of Trinidad and Tobago, Reema Carmona, have expressed support for the regionalization of the United Nations’ Secretary General Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescent’s Health 2016-2030. The Global Strategy seeks to end the preventable deaths and achieve health and well-being of women, children and adolescents; and expand enabling environments for this population to thrive.

“This meeting is timely and necessary,” said Carmona during her participation in the consultation organized by the Regional Coordinating Mechanism for the adaptation of the Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health to the Latin American and Caribbean context. The Mechanism is composed of the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), World Bank, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Pan American Health Organization/ World Health Organization (PAHO / WHO) and United Nations Secretariat for HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).

Representatives from ministries of health, civil society organizations, academia and UN agencies from 18 countries and territories in the Caribbean participated in the sub regional consultation, which took place on June 1 and 2, 2017 in Barbados.

Carmona highlighted her commitment to the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and to the Global Strategy that is aligned with that agenda. “This strategy is an imperative if we want to leave no one behind,” she said. “I may not be a health expert, but my training as an economist reminds me that a healthy population, including that of its women and children, translates handsomely on the economies of scale of any progressive Nations”, the First Lady of Trinidad and Tobago said.

Carmona touched on a number of issues to considerate in the adaptation of the Global Strategy. Among them, she mentioned the need to establish more Hospice Care, “that are accessible to everyone regardless of geography, status or financial standing”. She also mentioned the urgency for more agile drug approval processes that could follow prescribed international standards, following the example of the Bahamas. “This would not only save time, but also money to governments and the availability of drugs would decrease patient morbidity and mortality, easing the suffering of our loved ones”, she added. Carmona remarked the need to create a more motivated, productive workforce and healthier citizens to prevent NCDs, as well as to engage children and adolescents in their own care and well-being by empowering them to be advocates against childhood obesity; and to use social media as a way of reaching the young generation and petition for legislative reform to eradicate child marriage.

The Global Strategy builds on the UN initiative “Every Woman, Every Child”, which a group of Caribbean First Ladies, including Carmona and Simplis Barrow, have worked for the past two years to make a reality. Its sub regional adaptation, “Every Caribbean Woman, Every Caribbean Child”, has provided a platform for advocacy and action on key social determinants that negatively influence the health and development of countries.

Simplis Barrow considered that the new Global Strategy is in line with Every Caribbean Woman, Every Caribbean Child, and described the subregional consultation as an opportunity to chart the way forward in line with the priorities, policies and development agendas of the subregion.

The wife of the Prime Minister of Belize, who also serves as a Special Envoy for Women and Children, indicated that reducing adolescent pregnancy, cervical cancer, HIV, eliminating mother-to-child transmission of HIV, child marriage and human trafficking are among these priorities. “Too many women, children and adolescents have little or no access to essential and quality health and education services,” she said, and added, “they are constantly facing violence and discrimination; they cannot fully participate in society.”

The new Global Strategy also places adolescents at the center. In the Caribbean, there are approximately 1.6 million adolescents. Half of them are women and it is estimated that 20 percent of women in the Caribbean have had at least one child by the age of 19.

“The investments we make today in the health and well-being of our women, children and adolescents will help us to build more peaceful, sustainable and inclusive societies for future generations,” said Simplis Barrow. For this, she indicated, “we must ensure that we pursue a coordinated, solidarity-based, financially sustainable and partnership approach.”

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By Desmond Brown

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Apr 27 2017, (ACP-IDN) – The tiny Caribbean island of Barbados has taken a major step towards ensuring gender equality in its judicial system with the development of a draft gender equality protocol for magistrates and judges.

The document, being hailed as the first of its kind within the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), will support the judiciary in using gender analysis to ensure that both women and men have equal access to justice.

“If gender stereotypes are unconsciously held, if they are not the product of a deliberate intention to discriminate, how can we as judges avoid falling prey to them? This is where the establishment of this protocol is so important,” said Justice Adrian Saunders, a judge at the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).

“The protocol provides an easy reference point for judges and magistrates to be guided on the standards and approaches that are expected of us when we deal with issues that are gender sensitive. One of the goals of the protocol is to train the judicial mind in ways that promote impartial adjudication in the sphere of gender and gender relations,” Saunders said.

The protocol was developed by the Judicial Reform and Institutional Strengthening (JURIST) Project, in collaboration with the office for the Caribbean office of UN Women and the Caribbean Association of Judicial Officers (CAJO), with funding from the government of Canada.

Giving assurances that under the protocols both men and women will receive equal access to justice, Chief Justice Sir Marston Gibson said: “Gender equality should not lead us in the direction of favouring any one particular gender. Gender equality means that we must be impartial and we must look at the evidence, but we must be sensitive to the idea that what we do as judges will influence either gender equality or gender inequality if we’re not sensitive.”

However, even as the island takes this major step, concerns linger about gender equality in Barbados.

Former environment minister Liz Thompson noted that men continue to outnumber their female counterparts in top positions and has called for affirmative action for women in the workplace. “I think we have to do that in relation to the workplace, getting more women into the top ranks; we have to do it in relation to Parliament and Cabinet … and boards as well.”

Thompson said: “It has to be a conscious decision that we’re going to introduce some kind of affirmative action or quotas, and you have skilled women who can fill the positions so there’s no question of just taking up a person who is wearing a skirt and say ‘come girlfriend’, dragging them out of a beauty salon and say ‘you take this job here on the board’. She may come out of a beauty salon but she would have to fit the bill.”

Citing Europe and the United States as examples, she pointed out that female-owned businesses have access to certain jobs and government contracts, because quotas have been established for such enterprises, adding that in Africa and India, there are also mechanisms to facilitate access to capital and special funds for women.

Thompson also said there is a need to establish policies to facilitate a better work-life balance for working women. “Women continue to have the responsibility of caring for the elderly, caring for children, and we have to have more flexible working systems, opportunities where you’re bringing children into common nurseries and spaces, where women don’t have to be leaving at three o’clock to run to pick up the children, get them to lessons or somewhere, go back to work, run back out again. So that is important.

“I don’t know about politics, I think we’re still going to have a challenge even with the numbers because the reality is that politics is a blood sport and men and women don’t want to be defeated,” she stated.

On the issue of women in politics, and more specifically in political leadership, a senior fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, the University of London and Massey College at the University of Toronto, Sir Ronald Sanders argues that it is not a gender issue.

“The Caribbean’s modern history has many such women, among them Mia Mottley, the present leader of the Barbados Labour Party. Then, there are those who made it to the office of head of government – Eugenia Charles of Dominica, Janet Jagan of Guyana, Portia Simpson-Miller of Jamaica and Kamla Persad-Bissessar of Trinidad and Tobago,” said Sir Ronald, who is also Antigua and Barbuda’s ambassador to the United States and the Organisation of American States.

“The essential ingredient was not their gender, but their readiness to take on the rough and tumble of politics. Appealing to gender alone and the refrain of ‘time for a woman’ does not cut it in the world of real politics.  Faint hearts do not make leaders; courage, drive and political astuteness are the criteria by which any leader is judged – man or woman.”

Sir Ronald noted that in Antigua and Barbuda, a woman has joined the fray for the second time to become leader of a political party.

“On the last occasion, on the rubble of a defeated United Progressive Party, Joanne Massiah sought the leadership in a contest against Harold Lovell.  She had won her seat in Parliament in the general election; Lovell had not.  Her decision to run for the leadership had nothing to do with gender, and all to do with a belief that she was a better candidate,” he said.

“As it turned out, she may have been too trusting of a system that she subsequently regarded as treacherous when Lovell won the contest overwhelmingly, but as she saw it not fairly. Eventually, bad blood between the two led to her expulsion from the UPP.  Now, she has formed the Democratic National Alliance (DNA), and Antigua and Barbuda has its first woman as the leader of a political party, not because of gender but because she holds the view that she has the capacity to lead the country,” Sir Ronald added. [IDN-InDepthNews – 27 April 2017]

Photo: Liz Thompson, Former environment minister of Barbados. Credit: Barbados Today.

Note: This report is part of a joint project of the Secretariat of the ACP Group of States and IDN, flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate

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KINGSTON, Jamaica, Apr 16 2017 – A Jamaican woman, Violet Mosse Brown, has made history as the oldest person in the world following the death of Italian Emma Morano, on Saturday.

Morano was born on November 29, 1899.

Mosse Brown, also known as Aunt V, who lives in the northern parish of Trelawny, is 117 years old, having been born on March 10, 1900.

The Jamaica Observer reports that her eldest child, Harold Fairweather, at age 96, is said to be the world’s oldest living person with a parent also alive.

The US-based Gerontology Research Group (GRG) says in 1900, when Mosse Brown was born, Jamaica was part of the British West Indies, so her records are from the British government, in Queen Victoria’s time.

“Unless a surprise candidate comes out of the trees, she is the oldest living Victorian,” Robert Young, director of the Los Angeles-based GRG’s Supercentenarian Research and Database Division told AFP.

The previous oldest living person, Morano, died at her home in Verbania, northern Italy as the last survivor of the 19th century.

The world longevity record, Young noted, remained with French woman Jeanne Calment, who died at 122 in 1997, having outlived both her daughter and grandson.

A supercentenarian is someone who has lived to or passed their 110th birthday.

There are estimated to be 300–450 living supercentenarians in the world, though only 50 verified cases are known.

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Members of the Tambourine Army during their March 11 protest. The radical social-justice movement is fighting gender violence and rape culture in Jamaica.

By Desmond Brown

KINGSTON, Jamaica (ACP-IDN) – In the wake of an alarming upsurge in domestic violence and abuse of women and girls, a new group has emerged here with the promise of a revolution for social change, combating gender-based violence in particular – the “Tambourine Army”.

On its Facebook page, the Tambourine Army describes itself as a radical social-justice movement committed to uprooting the scourge of sexual violence and safeguarding the rights of women and girls.

The group first came to public attention on Sunday, February 8, when 14 women staged a peaceful protest at the Nazareth Moravian Church in the central parish of Manchester, rallying support for a 15-year-old St Elizabeth school girl allegedly abused by the pastor of the congregation.

One of the protesters reportedly used a tambourine to hit the then leader of the Moravian Church in Jamaica, Dr Paul Gardner, on the head, and the hashtag #TambourineArmy soon became popular on Jamaican social media in reference to the incident.

“This is not an army that fights with guns and M16s — though they are militant about their cause,” wrote former Jamaican senator and self-described changemaker Imani Duncan-Price in a recent op-ed in the island’s The Gleaner newspaper.

“The aim: to finally make Jamaica safer for women and girls, to deal systematically with the scourge of violence against children and women.”

More than two dozen women were murdered in Jamaica in 2016 and, according to Acting Commission of Police Novelette Grant, a little over 1,400 perpetrators of crimes against women and children over the past 13 months have been arrested.

Attorney-at-law Lord Anthony Gifford, QC, said the Tambourine Army raises a number of constitutional issues that are fascinating for a human rights lawyer to disentangle.

“Issue #1: Women and children are being constantly abused. Most of the worst violations of human rights occur within the home. Men who think they are stronger, including pastors who claim to be interpreters of the Word of God, abuse their power and think they are beyond the reach of justice. It has to stop, and as in many civil rights struggles, the abused are fed up with pious talk that has changed nothing.

“Issue #2: We enjoy the right of free speech and use it all the time, in talk shows and on social media, and on the street. It is a precious right that allows us all to vent our grievances and campaign for change. In the old days in Britain, they used to charge those who agitated for reform with ‘criminal libel’. In Jamaica, the offence of criminal libel was abolished by the Defamation Act 2013. But is it now returning in another form?

“Issue #3: We live under the rule of law, and the justice system should be there to ensure that crimes are reported and investigated, and the perpetrators punished. The presumption of innocence means that we should not label people as guilty until they have been so found after a fair trial. But the system is creaking. Cases take ages to be heard. Most judges do their best to do justice, but the ordeals faced by both victims and accused on the road to justice are often intolerable.”

On March 11, the Tambourine Army organised it debut national protest march against domestic violence, and Gifford said he fully supports the group.

“The issue of violence and sexual abuse cannot be resolved only by talk and no action. Men, too, should be part of the struggle to bring about true equality in relationships, and true care and protection for our children,” he said.

But noted obstetrician, gynaecologist, comedian and poet Michael Abrahams said he does do not agree with some of the tactics employed by the movement.

“The name ‘Tambourine Army’ arose after co-founder Latoya Nugent hit a pastor who is an alleged predator on the head with a tambourine. That was an assault, and I have reservations about naming the movement after such an incident,” Abrahams said.

“I also have reservations about the #SayTheir Names campaign that they initiated, in which victims are urged to publicly ‘name and shame’ alleged perpetrators, as persons with axes to grind can use the opportunity to smear the names of innocent people, even before making formal reports to the relevant authorities.”

Several persons voicing disagreement with the tactics being used by the Tambourine Army, including human-rights advocates sympathetic to their cause, have also been publicly cursed and disrespected by Nugent in social media.

On March 14, Nugent was arrested and charged with three counts of using a computer for malicious communication under section 9 (1) of the Cybercrimes Act of 2015.

Nugent allegedly published information on social media maligning several individuals as sexual predators, leading to formal complaints to the police by some of them.

“The women of the Tambourine Army see themselves as militant warriors who have decided that enough is enough and that it is time to rebel and start a revolution,” Abrahams said.

“Many people are hurting from the sequelae of child abuse, and when people hurt, are marginalised, and are denied justice, their pain will be manifested as anger.”

Then, he noted, there will come “a breaking point when the rules of the society that has failed them will be ignored and they will blaze their own trail. Their actions will offend and hurt some, and there will be casualties and collateral damage.

“Rebellions and revolutions are never pretty. Warriors are not here to play nice. The abuse of children has become normalised in our society, and if this were not the case, the Tambourine Army would not exist.” [IDN-InDepthNews – 28 March 2017]

Photo: Members of the Tambourine Army during their March 11 protest. The radical social-justice movement is fighting gender violence and rape culture in Jamaica.

Note: This report is part of a joint project of the Secretariat of the ACP Group of States and IDN, flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate

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WASHINGTON, Mar 24 2017 – The Congressional Black Caucus is calling on Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the FBI to help in the search for missing black girls in the Washington, D.C., area, following an alarming string of missing children cases from the nation’s capital.

The District of Columbia logged 501 cases of missing juveniles, many of them black or Latino, in the first three months of this year, according to the Metropolitan Police Department, the city’s police force. Twenty-two were unsolved as of March 22, police said.

The letter, dated Tuesday and obtained Thursday by The Associated Press, was sent by Congressional Black Caucus chairman Cedric Richmond, D-La., and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, who represents the District in Congress.

They called on Sessions and FBI Director James Comey to “devote the resources necessary to determine whether these developments are an anomaly or whether they are indicative of an underlying trend that must be addressed.”

According to reports, the names of the missing girls include: Yahshaiyah Enoch and Aniya McNeil, both 13; Juliana Otero, Jacqueline Lassey, Dashann Trikia Wallace, Dayana White and Morgan Richardson, all 15; and Talisha Coles, 16.

Richmond said he hopes to meet with Sessions and bring up the issue. No meeting is currently scheduled, according to the AP.

But President Donald Trump assured caucus members on Wednesday that he would make his Cabinet secretaries available to them.

D.C. police officials, meanwhile, said there has been no increase in the numbers of missing persons in their jurisdiction.

“We’ve just been posting them on social media more often,” said Metropolitan Police spokeswoman Rachel Reid.

According to local police data, the number of missing child cases in the District dropped from 2,433 in 2015 to 2,242 in 2016. The highest total recently, 2,610, was back in 2001.

But the increased social media attention has caused concern in the U.S. capital area, which has long had a large minority population and is currently about 48 percent black.

Hundreds of people packed a town-hall style meeting at a neighborhood school on Wednesday to express concern about the missing children cases.

“Ten children of color went missing in our nation’s capital in a period of two weeks and at first garnered very little media attention. That’s deeply disturbing,” Richmond’s letter said.

Derrica Wilson, co-founder of the Black and Missing Foundation, said that despite the assurances from police, it was alarming for so many children to go missing around the same time.

On Tuesday night, she noted, her group had four reports of missing children and only one had been found.

“We can’t focus on the numbers. If we have one missing child, that’s one too many,” Wilson said.

Wilson said she is concerned about whether human trafficking is a factor, citing the case of 8-year-old Relisha Rudd, who has been missing since she vanished from a city homeless shelter in 2014.

A janitor who worked at the shelter was found dead of apparent suicide during the search for the girl.

“They prey on the homeless, they prey on low income children, they prey on the runaways, they prey online,” Wilson said.

Information from the National Crime Information Center showed there were 170,899 missing black children under 18 in the United States, more than any other category except for the white/Hispanic combined number of 264,443.

Both numbers increased from the year before, which saw 169,655 missing black children and 262,177 missing white/Hispanic children.

“Whether these recent disappearances are an anomaly or signals of underlying trends, it is essential that the Department of Justice and the FBI use all of the tools at their disposal to help local officials investigate these events, and return these children to their parents as soon as possible,” Richmond said.

On Monday, local pastors, activists and parents gathered at the Covenant Baptist United Church of Christ in Washington, D.C., to discuss the disappearance and the possibility of human trafficking, according to Latina.com.

“Sometimes when girls of color are missing they are deemed ‘runaways’ and sometimes that prevents an Amber Alert from being sent out,” Dr. Vanetta Rather, founder of the support group My Sister My Seed, told the group, according to the website.

“It appears that when it’s girls of color there’s not this urgency,” Rather said.

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By Rebecca Theodore

UNITED NATIONS, Mar 17 2017 – The United Nations global Sustainable Development Goals agenda is a pulpit that aims to meet the greatest trials of the 21st century, with an admirable mention of gender equality by 2030.  However, since social progress is also evaluated by the way society treats women, then, it is evident that the many blockades to women’s participation in economic, social, and political life yearn to be understood in a global environment, where the language of gender equality easily dissolves into ideology and objectivity.

Whereas confirmed reports indicate that “$28 trillion could be added to the global GDP by 2025 if women, who make up half of the world’s work-age population, were to achieve their economic potential”, gender work parity remains the crowned monster that prevents women’s active participation in the workforce. Statistics further show that in the United States, women working full time in 2015 were paid just 77 percent of what men were paid. This vividly shows that women are robbed of 23 percent of their pay. Compounded with the threat of violence against women, sexual harassment, the disparaging effects of climate change, and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) confirmation that women and girls comprise 71 percent of human trafficking victims; the interpretation of a coarse language continues to encapsulate the culture of women into a wave of negativity, thus limiting their opportunities, and swapping away the   realities of history.

Yet, despite this economic and historical dilemma, the empowerment of women and girls is one of the most profound sentiments that stirs the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to glory.

Regardless of Secretary General Guterres’ critical role and his  purpose of  tenacity  and  assurance  for a new chronicle in realizing gender parity at the United Nations; research indicates that “the General Assembly, the highest policymaking body at the United Nations, and the Security Council, the most powerful veto-wielding body in the Organization, continue to prodigiously opt for men over women during its 71-year presence in terms of  employment and other socio-economic advantages.

More to the point, investigations further confirm that the UN 15-member Security Council’s record of accomplishment continues to elect men as UN Secretary-Generals, and that the two highest ranking political positions at the UN are identified as the ‘intellectual birthright’ of men.   Sanam Naraghi-Anderlini, co-founder and Executive Director of International Civil Society Action Network (ICAN) concludes, that “in a world with an increasing number of women in tertiary education and in the workplace, it seems inconceivable that the UN has not, or cannot reach parity between women and men in all levels across the system.”

From this it can be affirmed, that it is the United Nation’s grand proselytization of gender empowerment to women globally that further leads to problems by excluding women from the status quo, thus confining them to the private and subjective role of society. The United Nation’s deteriorating conditions of practicing inequality from within are masked in an institutional androcentric programme that is also leading to a negation of cultural relativism. It is one where generalizations are interpreted as truth and reinstated into the political, thereby making it difficult for women to understand who they are, and what they represent in a political climate swallowed in misogynous gains and androcentric ambitions.

Even though the UN deserves much credit for listing Goal 5 of its Sustainable Development agenda as a bulwark of achieving gender equality and empowerment for women and girls; on the other hand, the UN clearly accentuates ideals of social and economic injustice in the lives of women globally.

To what ends are we seeking liberation and gender parity if the UN Sustainable Development Goal on gender equality comprises of words that contain judgment?

It must also be remembered that if language is the cultural part of society, then, it is evident that language will reflect attitudes and thoughts in the construction of who and what a woman is or represent because meaning cannot be understood without language. Women cannot attain legitimization outside of the discourse of power that subjects them, because “the loss of meaning is created out of a meaning which seeks to prevent women from recognizing the destructive contradictions which comprise reality.”

Elaborating further, if the illusions of psychological autonomy, religion and philosophy continue to be the defining datum that crafts the social, economic, and political life of women, then, it creates a method for male dominance and a reason for repression and alienation for women universally. The philosophical works of Aristotle, Freud et al, coupled with the Christianity dogma of St. Paul should not be the prevailing evidence to further the plight of sexism and discrimination among UN policymakers. Indeed, the male is ruler and the female is subject, but if it is in the spirit of the times (Zeitgeist) that the cultural matrix is to be understood, then, it is plain to see how the UN’s reasoning eliminates the concept of ‘personhood’ and restrict all aspects of human experience, hence, branding women as victims of a tragic misogyny and a catastrophic sexism that knows no bounds.

Notwithstanding the fact that the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a soft law agreement, and governments are not legally required to deliver on the commitments, it must be seen that we now live in a world where technology substitutes humanity. Within this bearing, if United Nation policymakers refuse to indorse pioneering technologies and practices to generate innocuous working environments for women, then it becomes impossible for the onus to coerce a more structural focus on gender equality for women and girls globally.  Moreover, in the great marriage of globalisation, and technological advancement, the adoption of women must also be considered in the great narrative of women in the changing world of work.  If these decisions are ignored, then, women will continue to face colossal eccentricities in building sustainable and productive livelihoods. Gender parity 50-50 by 2030 will be nothing but a ‘fleeting illusion to be pursued but never attained.’

Still, one thing is certain. Women cannot continue to be socialized by the internalization of administrative concepts and paradigms while their struggles for self-determination are eroded in the grinding wheel of capitalist consumption and thirst of androcentric power.  It is good that Goal 5 of the UN Sustainable Development Goal enables women to make choices, but it is also easy to see how this choice is conducive to a given end in control and domination by this very bureaucratic institution.

And for women, this double day is now a standard impasse.

It follows that in a world divided along class and racial lines, it is impossible for women to struggle for transcendence in the concept of Goal 5 of the United Nations Sustainable Development because this notion is the product of denial and erasure. Gender equality is an essential human right. It is not only dividing things into binary categories to understand gender parity and women in the changing world of work, but the inclusion of other voices which are not of the dominant construct also need to be heard.

The pluralistic prospect of Goal 5 of the United Nations sustainable development agenda must also seek to dissuade the social forms of categorization, negative stereotyping, and over representation that stifles the concerted efforts of women, and thwarts transformational changes towards women in the changing world of work.

Consequently, navigating the progression of gender equality to a sustainable future demands a change to institutional language and the prevailing ‘androcentricism’ that continues to bring untold connotations to the scope of human thinking. Women and girls need “access to education, health care, decent work and representation in political and economic decision-making processes to fuel sustainable economies and benefit societies and humanity at large.”

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KINGSTON, Jamaica, Mar 08 2017 -The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) has called for the creation of quality jobs that duly recognize women’s abilities, levels of instruction and productivity, in the framework of International Women’s Day commemorated every March 8.

Although labour market indicators showed a positive trend over the past decade, the labour participation rate for women has stagnated at around 53 percent, and 78.1 percent of women who are employed work in what ECLAC defines as low productivity sectors, where the pay is worse, social security coverage is low, and there is less contact with technology and innovation.

Likewise, women’s unemployment rates are systematically higher than those of men, according to a document prepared by ECLAC’s Gender Equality Observatory for Latin America and the Caribbean.

Between 2002 and 2013, the unemployment rate in Latin America cumulatively fell by 2.8 percentage points, but starting in 2015, that trend has reversed. According to the report Preliminary Overview of the Economies of Latin America and the Caribbean, in 2015 the unemployment rate reached 7.4 percent, with women being the most adversely affected: 8.6 percent of women were unemployed compared with 6.6 percent of men.

In the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, based on preliminary data for 2016, the unemployment rate increased an average of 0.5 percentage points versus the previous year: the increase for women was 0.7 percentage points while for men it was 0.3 points.

“The labor indicators for Latin America and the Caribbean continue to show large gender gaps between men and women with regard to access to opportunities and rights. The inequalities are rooted in a social system that reproduces stereotypes and preserves a sexual division of labor that limits women’s labor integration,” explains ECLAC’s Executive Secretary, Alicia Bárcena.

These structural factors, according to the United Nations senior official, pose an obstacle to overcoming poverty and inequality in the region, as well as to women’s attainment of economic autonomy – even more so if one considers the current context of economic contraction.

Although the rates of unemployment for women and men vary depending on the country, the gender gap is always favorable to men, except in Mexico, where male unemployment exceeds that of women by 0.1 percentage points, according to ECLAC. Countries such as Belize and Jamaica show gaps in excess of 7 percentage points.

Unemployment rates have remained particularly high among people with lower incomes. In the first quintile in 2013, 14.9 percent of women were unemployed (compared with 10.5 percent of men). In the third quintile, female unemployment was at 7 percent with male unemployment at 4.9 percent, while in the highest-income quintile these percentages fall to 3 percent and 2.5 percent, respectively.

For ECLAC, employment policies should be capable of modifying the current structure of inequality, confronting the existing gender bias in the labor market. It also calls for the recognition and redistribution of time spent on unpaid labor, so that the responsibility of caring for children, dependent persons and older adults does not fall exclusively on women.

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BRADES, Montserrat, Mar 02 2017 – Doctors in Montserrat have embarked on protest action in support of their colleague, Dr. Franklin Perkins, who was arrested on Tuesday based on allegations of indecent assault made by a patient.

Perkins has since been released on bail and will return to court on Friday.

“We are very disappointed in the way the whole thing was managed. We are here really in his defence. Dr. Perkins has been a government and private practitioner since I was a child …and he is very dedicated to his profession,” said Dr. Ingrid Buffonge.

Speaking on a radio station here, she said never in “my entire profession had any patient come forward with accusation such as this.

“As medical professionals, we spend a lot of time with patients and we are particularly vulnerable to accusations like this and therefore as a team we have got to put things in place to make sure that such things don’t happen again.”

She said the doctors strongly believe their colleague is innocent adding “today we are actually on strike.

But Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr. Lowell Lewis said that there were no disruptions to services at the Glendon Hospital or health centres.

Meanwhile, the Montserrat Women’s Resource Centre (MWRC), which provides supportive and educational services for girls and women here, said it is aware of the allegations and recent arrest of Dr. Perkins and wishes that none of this were true.

“The MWRC is disappointed at the precipitate dismissal of this young woman’s claims by respected medical professionals, even while it comprehends the desire of the profession to support one of their own and especially at the strike action announced.

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Sandra Granger

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Feb 17 2017 – The first ladies of five Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders have discussed issues aimed at reducing teenage pregnancy, domestic violence, trafficking in persons (TIP) mother to child transmission of HIV/AIDS and cervical cancer as well as gender based inequalities in the region.

The wives of the leaders of Guyana, Belize, Jamaica, Haiti and Trinidad and Tobago began their two-day meeting on Thursday to identify challenges and discuss solutions on the way forward at their “Forum of the CARICOM’s Spouses of Heads of State and Government on the Every Caribbean Woman, Every Caribbean Child (ECWECC)” initiative.

Guyana’s First Lady, Sandra Granger told reporters that Thursday’s deliberations discussed some of the issues identified including ways to reduce teenage pregnancy, domestic violence, trafficking in persons (TIP) mother to child transmission of HIV/AIDS and cervical cancer, and addressing gender based inequalities.

Mrs. Granger explained that work has already started in Guyana, and the Ministries of Social Protection and Public Health are currently working with teen mothers, domestic violence and TIP victims, however more work needs to be done to better protect women.

She said that the initiative is being supported by several Caribbean First Ladies, but plans and discussions will be circulated to others to get all of them on board, in a tangible way.

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PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Feb 09 2017 –  Canada has announced roughly $70 million in development aid for Haiti a day after the poor country returned to a democratically elected government.

The funding is intended to improve conditions for Haitians, particularly for women and children.

Wednesday’s announcement came a day after Jovenel Moise was sworn in as the Caribbean nation’s president for the next five years.

Haiti had been governed by an appointed president’s interim government for the last year amid a repeatedly derailed electoral cycle that started in 2015.

The largest part of Canadian assistance will go toward the Pan American Health Organization’s work in Haiti, including funding for postnatal care for mothers and their infants. Haiti has the highest maternal mortality ratio in the hemisphere.

Other funding is intended to improve access to education and justice.

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