Minister for Education, Innovation, Gender Relations and Sustainable Development Hon. Dr. Gale Rigobert has thrown the support of the Government of Saint Lucia behind calls for more to be done to ensure the economic and social autonomy of Caribbean women. On Tuesday 26th July, 2016 Dr. Rigobert participated in a high level panel on “Autonomy and Gender Equality: The Caribbean Towards 2030” held in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. The preparatory meeting of the Thirteenth Regional Conference on Women in Latin America and the Caribbean with Caribbean countries, was hosted by Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).
“Too often gender relations are thrust into the spotlight only when we have to deal with gruesome news. If we have been thinking about these problems for over forty years, then how do we account for the progress gap? We must fully appreciate that while we have made significant strides, the global construct has not led us to a new way of thinking” underscored Dr. Rigobert.
“Much of what we have been advocating for and fighting against is sometimes incongruent with and challenges deeply entrenched cultural, ethnic, and religious traditions, historical practices and ways of thinking,” the Gender Relations Minister empasised to the high-level government officials and senior international gender experts in attendance at the ECLAC meeting.
She said it posed a particular challenge with respect to achieving women’s autonomy, also citing the necessity for a multifaceted methodology involving stakeholders (including men) in achieving gender equality and autonomy. Dr. Rigobert lamented that women seem to be carrying a disproportionate burden of care which, she said, was seldom acknowledged, nor rewarded.
“Hence, because much of what women do as “work” takes place in the informal sector (which is often not remunerated nor accounted for in the national statistics) the economic autonomy of women is much harder to achieve,” the Minister said.
The conference also addressed other issues including the impoverishment of elderly women, the challenges of ageing, teenage pregnancy, domestic violence, crimes of a sexual nature, unavailability of financing for women entrepreneurs, the need to invest in girls and the need to make financial resources available to combat the ills that confront women.
Dr. Rigobert indicated that while there has been fruitful dialogue over the past four decades there was still a significant lag in establishing the appropriate and facilitating regulatory and legal framework to help cure some of the problems that were highlighted at Tuesday’s conference. She appealed to policy makers to make a greater effort to implement the many policies and laws that are “stuck in the pipelines” for one reason or another.
The Gender Relations Minister asserted that such conferences help to inform the developmental and systematic approach she envisions for gender equality and autonomy in Saint Lucia and the overarching mandate of the Gender Relations Unit.