Opinion: Goal of gender equality remains unfulfilled

Dr. Peggy Antrobus
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(Letter to the Editor, Stabroek News, 4 July, 2018) On the occasion of the 39th CARICOM Heads of Government Meeting, we, Caribbean citizens working for gender equality and social justice, congratulate Prime Minister Mia Mottley on her entry into the community of the Caribbean Heads of Government. We are encouraged by her commitment to social justice and to the social partnership in the processes of policy making.

At a meeting in March 2018, some 55 feminist and social justice advocates from nine countries and the diaspora gathered at the Barbados Labour College to discuss the challenges confronted by Caribbean peoples. The region is facing economic stagnation and underdevelopment, indebtedness, corruption, the negative impacts of climate change, violence, crime, and inequalities, all of which threaten our collective security and purpose as a region. Too many of our people are living in desperate circumstances. So many youth feel hopeless and let down by an elitist education system that remains largely unreformed in the post-independence era.

In spite of higher educational achievement among girls and women, the goal of gender equality remains unfulfilled. In all CARICOM member states, we are witnessing high levels of domestic violence and sexual assaults in the home and community. These unequal gender dynamics at work in the Caribbean are a fetter on human rights, development and justice, including for boys and young men.

We call for approaches to indebtedness and economic growth that are integrated with and realize self-determination, poverty reduction, equality and environmental sustainability. As we seek accountability and reparations, we must also recall the continuing marginalisation of indigenous peoples. All of us who inhabit this special Caribbean space must be committed to healing and ending all forms of discrimination- whether based on gender, ethnicity, colour, abilities, sexual orientation or geography.

We are also concerned about corruption, uneven transparency and the misuse of state power. If Caribbean peoples are to hold power to account, we must be free from fear of reprisals and victimization, a constant threat in small societies where the state is the major employer as well as the major purchaser of goods and services.

At our meeting in March which was attended by representatives of key regional institutions such as CARICOM, CDB and UWI, we reaffirmed regionalism as a central organizing principle in the daily lives of Caribbean people. We encourage these institutions to strengthen gender mainstreaming as a core strategy for achieving equality and development.

Caribbean leaders are obligated not only to those who vote for them or to those within their nation states. We must all be ethical and thoughtful if we are to survive and thrive, leaving a proud legacy for the generations that follow.

Yours faithfully,

Peggy Antrobus, Roberta Clarke, Rosina Wiltshire

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