COVID-19 compounding inequalities between men, women – CARICOM Human Development Assistant Secretary-General

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The COVID-19 pandemic has further compounded the long-standing inequalities between men and women in relation to employment, health, unpaid-care work, and decision-making.

Dr. Douglas Slater, Assistant Secretary-General for Human and Social Development set that context as he opened a discussion on issues pertaining to gender, at the Fortieth Meeting of the Council for Human and Social Development (COHSOD- Gender).

The virtual meeting commenced on Thursday 3 June among CARICOM Ministers with responsibility for Gender Affairs, under the theme ‘Strengthening Gender Equality in COVID-19 Response and Recovery in the Community’. The Hon. Frankie Campbell, Minister of Social Services and Urban Development of the Bahamas, served as Chair of the meeting.

Dr. Slater said there was much work to be done together to devise appropriate policy and programmatic responses to address the challenges and to stimulate resilient recovery in the Community.

Convened to review the status of implementation of gender equality commitments in the Region, in the context of the 25th Anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the COHSOD also reviewed the progress towards elaborating a comprehensive CARICOM Regional Gender Equality Strategy. The CARICOM Secretariat is coordinating that process, with the input of multiple stakeholders.

The Council also devoted attention to the CARICOM Triennial Award for Women, to data intelligence and measuring Sustainable Development Goal 5 on Gender Equality. It also received a comprehensive update on the Regional Spotlight Initiative.

Noting the dramatic increase in gender-based violence because of the COVID-19 lockdown, Dr. Slater said the meeting was timely.

It came at a time, he said, when no country has yet achieved gender equality and progress towards this objective has been slow and uneven globally.

“…The region is grappling with the unprecedented economic and social impact of the COVID-19 pandemic which has significantly set us back in the progress we were making towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, and in this context, especially Goal 5 on Gender Equality,” Dr Douglas stated.

Against this backdrop, he said COHSOD would share best practices and discuss collaborative ways to address the peculiar needs of women, children and other vulnerable groups.

He lauded the ministers for their participation, which he said, reflected their “strong commitment to Gender and to working collaboratively with other countries in the region to advance our common aspiration for a resilient, thriving Caribbean Community.”

Highlighting increased capacity of the Secretariat to advance the regional gender programme, he noted the work of Deputy Programme Manager, for Gender and Development, Ms. Ann-Marie Williams of Belize. She was appointed to that position which was vacant for some time.

Dr. Slater also commended the presence of regional organisations and from the United Nations system, as he expressed appreciation for the many ways they have been providing “expert advice and technical support to Member States on the road to recovery.”

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