Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Verna urges public to read gender draft

In two weeks, a draft document on gender policy will be presented to Cabinet, says Minister of Gender, Youth and Child Development Verna St Rose-Greaves.

Speaking to the media at the Parliament building, Tower D, International Waterfront Centre, Port of Spain, the minister said a "rich" document was compiled after consultations with stakeholders, including the Inter Religious Organisation (IRO).

"It is a really solid document; we have had a lot of input; this is not the first time that we are doing a gender policy; a lot of work has gone into it, a lot of good thoughts and ideas; all I am asking people is not to limit yourself; read it, roll around in it and really just think about the rights of all citizens," said St Rose-Greaves.

She noted whenever there is a gender policy, there is usually some controversy but added this was democracy at work.

"...And that is what we have to learn, not to be afraid, not to bully anybody's voice...we all have to have a voice, and we must engage respectfully," she said.

St Rose-Greaves said it was unfortunate that public discussions on the gender policy focused on controversial areas.

"It is unfortunate, however, that the discussions seem to stay mired in just the two topics that are deemed controversial (same-sex unions and abortion), and I really want to encourage people once that draft goes out, for people to really read it and understand how important it is for our development," she said.

Yesterday, University of the West Indies (UWI) students expressed their solidarity with the Gender Policy of the Ministry of Gender via a demonstration outside Parliament.

Spokesperson for the group Carol Jaggernauth told the Express that while gay marriage and abortion rights were the focus of public attention, the group's focus was "equal rights for all persons", regardless of who they are.

"Whatever aspect of the human life someone represents, the humane stance is the one we are taking," Jaggernauth said.

The group is advocating that parliamentarians amend the Equal Opportunity Act to add age, sexual orientation and HIV status as new statuses protected from discrimination.

—Anna Ramdass