Minister of Gender, Youth and Child Development Clifton De Coteau has assured that a gender policy will be put into place soon.
Speaking at the Network of NGOs for the Advancement of Women’s Women in Enterprise conference, “Equality Means Business”, on Monday at the National Academy for Performing Arts (NAPA) in Port of Spain, De Coteau said: “Ms Hazel Brown, the energising, driving force, co-ordinator of the Network of NGOs for the Advancement of Women, 25 years and no gender policy...as the first male minister in this ministry, I want to assure you sister Hazel it (the gender policy) is before the Cabinet and this male minister will make it a reality.”
De Coteau, who said he was representing Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar who was in St Vincent for a Caricom meeting, told those present that the progress made by women must be acknowledged.
“I would also like to ask that we use today’s successes as the impetus to move forward with even greater determination to face the many challenges that still exist.”
De Coteau said the boundaries must be pushed back for those who still face discrimination and disenfranchisement.
He added that too often women are perceived to be solely responsible for the advancement of women’s rights, when the fact is the protection and progress of women’s rights is every person’s responsibility.
De Coteau said while the glass ceiling has become a memory for some, for others it remains a real and present barrier to their progress even today as there are women who are overlooked for promotion even though they possess the required qualifications.
He said, in education, a very tragic irony exists because while girls excel there still exists a denial of rights to education in some cases.
“One area in which progress has been seen with potential and even great strides is in enterprise, while the corporate world remains a challenging place for women to grow, today more female entrepreneurs are emerging as opposed to male entrepreneurs...also in the business sector women are referred to as examples of economic success ,they play a critical role in the areas of food, agriculture and manufacturing industries,” said the minister.
See Pages 23 and 24