Caribbean advocates want to influence global development agenda

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC) – Caribbean countries say they want the United Nations General Assembly to ensure that gender equality and regional priorities are at the forefront of their discussions at least over the next two years.

In addition, the regional delegates who attended the two-day “Caribbean Forum on Gender Equality and the Post 2015 Agenda” say the issues should also form part of the global discussions on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) agreement in 2015 and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) agenda.

A statement issued at the end of the meeting here, said that the delegates have agreed on a joint statement “which forms a platform for advocacy on the part of governments and civil society, stresses that in the context of the region’s social and economic challenges, there must be the recognition that women and men are affected equally but differentially.

“In a cost benefit analysis, if gender-neutral policies continue to be pursued, the full realisation of Caribbean nations’ goals will not be realised. As new development policies emerge worldwide, in the context of the Caribbean, it is essential that inequalities be tackled – and that not one person is left behind.”

The joint statement stresses the Caribbean Region’s right to live free from violence and the need to overcome the lack of access to social security protections in a context of severely restrained national budgets.

It also outlines the Caribbean’s expectation of a global post 2015 development framework which must among other things address  the vulnerability of small island states to transnational crime including the drug trade and trade in small arms by strengthening international and national treaties as well as address inequitable access to land, water, technology and markets that inhibits women’s and youth’s involvement in agriculture.

In addition the delegates want to ensure that “socio-political and economic factors that negatively impact boys’ participation in formal education systems are addressed and that formal certification carries equal social and economic value for both sexes” as well as support macro-economic reforms which reduce the persistent and increasing burden of poverty on women and other vulnerable groups, including adolescent mothers, single women-headed households, persons with disabilities, the elderly, indigenous peoples, domestic workers and rural women in particular.

They have also called for an environment that enables the emergence of a critical mass of women, to become corporate leaders, serving on private sector boards and involved in all formal and informal areas of economic enterprise.

The meeting here was attended by delegates from 14 Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries as well as representatives from a number of United Nations agencies including UN Women, UNICEF, UN Economic and Social Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, the Organisation of American States, the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States and the Caribbean Development Bank.

In his address to the opening, Barbados Minister of Social Care, Steve Blackett urged all stakeholders to transform their views on the roles of men and women and to continue addresses gender equality.

“The new framework should also address the barriers to women’s full economic participation and access to financial and productive resources, including women’s access to land, resources, knowledge and technology, as well as property and inheritance rights and for decent work,” Blackett said.

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