Message from Ambassador Irwin LaRocque – Secretary-General, Caribbean Community on the Occasion of International Women’s Day, Sunday, 8 March 2020

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It is a distinct honour and pleasure for me to celebrate International Women’s Day with our women and girls across the Community. The Day affords us the opportunity to reflect on gender equality and the advancement of women as important components of this year’s United Nation’s theme: “I Am Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights”.

CARICOM Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque

This year’s celebration is being observed in the wider context of significant global commemorations; key among them the 25th Anniversary of the Adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action; five years of implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; and 20 years of Security Council Resolution 1325 which addresses the differential impacts of conflict and war on women and girls and recognizes the critical role that women play in citizen security and peace-building efforts.

Twenty-five years after the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China, women are yet to live in an equal world, free of all forms of violence against them and where their leadership skills are fully utilized and valued amidst a widening income gap and growing economic inequality. The unfortunate reality is that 25 years later, no country or region has achieved gender equality.

One of the 12 priority pillars of the Beijing Declaration is Women in power and decision-making. Globally, three quarters of all parliamentarians are men. The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women recommends that temporary special measures be adopted to fast track women’s political representation. Several countries that have adopted those measures have seen a wider representation of women in politics at the highest decision-making levels.

Women and girls suffer disproportionately from missed opportunities to advance their education and improve their earning power, as a result of their unpaid care work in the household.  Progressive policies that will decrease unpaid care work such as subsidized child care, parental leave, and work life balance are needed and can be achieved.

However, there has been some progress and there’s much to celebrate. For example, more than 150 countries have some form of domestic violence legislation; more women are enrolled in tertiary education both globally and  regionally; mother to child transmission of HIV has been reduced drastically and  worldwide there’s been a 38% drop in the ratio of maternal deaths since 2000.

Gender equality is not just for women and girls, but also for men and boys because when women succeed, all of society benefits and succeeding generations have better life chances to thrive. Young women and girls are concerned about the climate and have been at the forefront in the fight to save our planet and promote sustainable livelihoods.

Therefore, as we mark this important year for gender equality, let us all remember that we are “Generation Equality” and we must all work together to create a more equitable world.

Happy International Women’s Day!


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