MINISTER of Social Protection, Amna Ally told a United Nations forum on Monday that despite the challenges affecting the region, CARICOM continues to progress in achieving regional and international goals for the empowerment and advancement of women and girls.
Ally made the remarks while representing CARICOM at the United Nations, 62nd Session of the Commission on the Status of Women. She said the provision of education continues to be a strong focus in all of the CARICOM countries. The commission is being held under the theme: “Challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls”.
Ally indicated that women in rural areas are exposed to a plethora of issues that causes vulnerability, referencing: the informal economy, cultural norms, work with little or no benefits, migration and Trafficking in Persons (TIP). Guyana, including many Caribbean territories, has led the way in enacting specific legislation against Trafficking in Persons (TIP). However, the minister said according to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, trafficking of women in the Caribbean has increased, and is associated with illegal migration.
Migrants are specifically at risk to trafficking, becoming victims of international criminal networks and of sexual exploitation in the tourism, logging and mining industries. Nevertheless, a recent achievement for the Caribbean has been the elevation of Guyana from a Tier 2 to a Tier 1 country in the US Department of State’s 2017 Annual Trafficking in Persons Report.
Minister Ally said CARICOM is working both collectively and individually to achieve gender parity and to address the challenges of women. Noting the importance of women in rural society, Minister Ally said; “In Belize, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Guyana, Indigenous women play a fundamental role in sharing knowledge, including the historical memory of villages and technical expertise such as agro-ecological management, seed selection, plant reproduction and medicinal uses of herbs”; mentioning also that rural women account for a great portion of the agricultural labour force.
It was further highlighted that “In countries such as Jamaica and Guyana with large agricultural bases, efforts to meet the challenges faced by many rural women are realised by micro-credit programmes to offer persons grants to initiate small projects in their communities.”
According to the minister, “The Caribbean Rural Network of Women Producers, with chapters in seven Caribbean countries, promote strong business models for rural women who use locally-sourced materials, low-energy and sustainable production processes and traditional methods for their economic empowerment and broader national development.”
She said promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women has been a central priority for CARICOM states and maintained that budgetary allocations must cater for the development of women in the rural areas.
The 62nd Commission on the Status of Women is taking place at the United Nations headquarters in New York from March 12 to 23, 2018. The Commission is the principal global intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women.