BRIDGETOWN, Barbados -- As global discussions intensify around creating a new global development agreement, Caribbean government and non-governmental representatives supporting gender equality have together agreed on forward-looking Caribbean-specific priorities that they will advocate for in the coming two years of discussions within the UN General Assembly and beyond.
Under the UN Women-supported Caribbean Forum on Gender Equality and the Post 2015 Agenda held 22-23August, delegates generated a joint statement, for ensuring gender equality and Caribbean priorities for development will be front and centre in the global discussions around the completion of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) agreement in 2015 and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) agenda.
The 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.
Among the main priorities articulated, 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. The joint statement goes on to outline the Caribbean’s expectation of a global post 2015 development framework which must:
• 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;
• Address inequitable access to land, water, technology and markets that inhibits women’s and youth’s involvement in agriculture;
• Ensure that sociopolitical 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;
• 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.
• Enable 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.
Participants at the forum included the ministers with responsibility for social care and gender affairs from six CARICOM territories – Barbados, the Bahamas, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines; gender bureaus and civil society partners from 14 CARICOM countries, in addition to representatives from the host agency UN Women, UNICEF, UN Economic and Social Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean; UN Resident Coordinators from Barbados/ the OECS, Trinidad and Tobago and Suriname; Diplomatic Missions; and Representatives from the Organisation of American States, the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States and the Caribbean Development Bank.