Caribbean women still lack real power
- gender studies professor By Miranda La Rose
Stabroek News
November 4, 2003

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While more girls than boys are taking advantage of opportunities for higher education, they are still not adequately represented in positions of power where they can create social change.

So said Regional Coordinator of the Centre for Gender and Development Studies at the University of the West Indies, Professor Barbara Bailey, in a statement at the launching of CARICOMís `Plan of Action to 2005: Framework for Mainstreaming Gender into Key CARICOM Programmesí held at Le Meridien Pegasus last Friday.

Present at the launching were Minister of Labour, Human Services and Social Security, Dr Dale Bisnauth and Minister within the ministry, Bibi Shadick.

The CARICOM Plan of Action was prepared by political and womenís activist, Andaiye, who was not present at the launching. Bailey contributed to the entire process of producing the plan.

According to the introduction, the plan of action provides a framework for establishing a more constructive approach to mainstreaming gender in CARICOMís work programme, the conduct of research, and the design and implementation of policies and programmes by governments and non-governmental organisations, which share responsibility for working towards gender equality in CARICOM member states.

Bailey noted that the assumption that increased participation and performance in education would result in womenís empowerment and their improved position in society needed to be critically assessed in relation to the Caribbean context and Caribbean needs.

She observed that while more and more females were grasping opportunities for higher education, they were markedly absent from the boardroom where decisions were taken and power was wielded. Because of their absence in decision making, women were excluded from the social dialogue on job and social security. They also experience higher levels of unemployment then men.

CARICOM has adopted the Beijing platform for action, which urges the promotion of an active and visible policy of mainstreaming a gender perspective in all policies and programmes, so that before decisions are taken, an analysis is made of their respective effects on men and women.

The CARICOM Heads of government have key areas where gender mainstreaming should be considered: education in terms of building capital; health, with a focus on HIV and AIDS; and labour, as part of the social dialogue.

Gender mainstreaming is a process of assessing the implications of any planned action for women and men (boys and girls). It involves the (re)-organisation, development and evaluation of policy processes so that a gender perspective is incorporated in all policies at all levels and at all stages.