CARICOM Secretary General calls for redoubled efforts to achieve equality for women

CARICOM Secretary-General Irwin LaRocque

GEORGETOWN, Guyana – Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretary General Irwin LaRocque on Monday called on the region to intensify efforts to address the obstacles faced by women, in a message to mark International Women’s Day.

Even as he celebrated those women who have contributed to the progress and well-being of the region and the rest of the world, he acknowledged more progress was needed to achieve an equal and just society.

“Today we celebrate the many women on the front line of the COVID-19 response and recovery efforts, as health care workers, caregivers, essential workers, innovators, community organisers, and as some of the most exemplary and effective national leaders in combating the pandemic. The crisis has highlighted the tremendous value of their contribution for which we owe them a debt of gratitude,” he said.

“As we observe International Women’s Day across the community, let us take our inspiration from the many women trailblazers who have made a difference in our lives in a diverse field of endeavours, from politics, business and community service, to education, sports, culture, science, technology and engineering. Let us commit to redoubling our efforts to bring about a new post-COVID-19 world based on equality, mutual respect, freedom from violence and social justice.”

The global theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is: ‘Women in Leadership: Achieving an Equal Future in a COVID-19 World’. The theme celebrates the tremendous efforts by women and girls around the world to shape a more just future, and highlights the special needs of women to recover from the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Ambassador LaRocque said that it is evident that women are disproportionately affected by a rising incidence of domestic abuse, unemployment and the burden of care for children affected by protracted school closures.

“Investments in the provision of quality, affordable childcare services is crucial to enabling women who dropped out of the workforce at the height of the pandemic, to regain employment. Research by the International Labour Organization shows that failure to do so will further push 47 million women and girls in Latin America and the Caribbean below the poverty line,” he said.

Further noting that the future is more promising when women are equally represented alongside men in leadership roles, the CARICOM  Secretary General lamented that women are still under-represented in public life and decision-making, as revealed in the United Nations Secretary General’s 2020 report.

That report showed that women are heads of state or government in 22 countries, and only 24.9 per cent of national parliamentarians are women.

“There is much more work to be done to ensure women’s equal participation in decision-making in government and in the private sector,” LaRocque said.