St. Kitts – Nevis Government Advocates Greater Input From Women

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From The Ministry of Gender Affairs

Basseterre, St. Kitts – Nevis
July 23, 2009 (SKNIS)

The Ministry of Gender Affairs is encouraging more women to seriously consider entrepreneurship opportunities as an avenue for greater self empowerment.

The Ministry’s Director, Ingrid Charles-Gumbs, told SKNIS that there is a lot of potential for agricultural development in St. Kitts and Nevis and she would like to see more women exposed to the technological advancements in fisheries and agriculture; two areas where women have traditionally played elementary roles.

This position and other policy recommendations are included in the 2009 Women’s Manifesto of St. Kitts and Nevis, which was published by the Government agency to articulate the issues that affect the lives of women in order to ensure social justice for all citizens.

While appearing on this week’s edition of Perspectives, Mrs. Gumbs explained that the word manifesto was strategically used, as the document is published before impending general elections. The first booklet was produced in 2004 and Mrs. Gumbs indicated that the document highlighted critical issues, some of which were implemented by the new Government.

These included the establishment of a legal aid clinic, raising the age of consent, and signing the optional protocol of the Convention on the Elimination on all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

Claims listed in the 2009 edition, include paternity leave; women and health; amending laws; and mainstreaming gender in the domestic sphere. It also advocates that the legal aid clinic be upgraded and its services expanded to Nevis.

The staff canvassed a wide cross section of society to ensure that the views expressed were reflective of the population. Discussions in St. Kitts and in Nevis were held with politically affiliated, faith-based, youth, sports and other women’s groups.

Mrs. Gumbs noted that she was proud of the record that the twin-island Federation had in advancing gender equality.

“St. Kitts and Nevis is a country that is extremely progressive in a number of ways,” she stressed. “Women in public sector management … is over 60 percent and women’s performance in the area of academics and others [is good]. We are doing pretty well there.”

However, Mrs. Gumbs disclosed that she would like to see more women sitting as members of Parliament adding, “We have a lot of work to do” in that area.

A number of training programmes on Women in Democracy and Governance have been staged by the Ministry to prepare women for the challenges of the political decision making arena. The most recent course concluded on July 13, 2009 and saw 30 female graduates from Nevis.

The Director of Gender Affairs stated that more than 150 persons in St. Kitts and Nevis have completed the training thus far.

The Women’s Manifesto is available from the Ministry of Gender Affairs on Victoria Road. Telephone 467-1020 for more information.

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