Domestic Violence, AIDS & how Caribbean Women affected to be examined at the Partners’ Forum of the Commonwealth Women’s Affairs Ministers’ Meeting (WAMM) – June 4th & 5th
Economic insecurity, violence, HIV/AIDS are some of the critical issues currently facing Caribbean women and come next month these are expected to be addressed at the Partners’ Forum of the Commonwealth Women’s Affairs Ministers’ Meeting (WAMM) scheduled for June 4 and 5.
Providing support for this event are the Caribbean Policy Development Centre (CPDC), the National Organisation of Women Barbados (NOW), the Bureau of Gender Affairs with assistance from the Ministry of Youth, Family and Sports.
Recent research indicates that across the region 43.5 per cent of households are headed by women who do not benefit from the income of a resident spouse, and receiving child support is sporadic, inadequate and fraught with indignity.
Female unemployment is higher than male unemployment in every country of the region; additionally women earn 70% and less of the income earned by males of comparable education. Further, the majority of employed women are concentrated in low-waged sectors of the economy; and in the informal sector, they do not have social security and maternity benefit, even more concerning is the harsh conditions they work under.
It has also been revealed that poverty affects slightly more women, than men – and the nature of poverty is more intense for women due to their greater responsibility for the wellbeing of all members of the family. There are also indications that an increasing number of elderly women are without pensions and poor relief, while men are homeless.
There is also an increase in the sexual molestation of female and male children posing severe challenges for households and child care institutions, meanwhile a survey conducted in 2009 on behalf of the Bureau of Gender Affairs in Barbados discovered a high incidence of all forms of violence against women comparable to that of other countries in the region.
Despite legislation prohibiting such acts, more frequent reporting, and enhanced expertise among police and other personnel to respond to complaints physical and emotional abuse – including financial neglect and deliberate deprivation – sexual molestation and violence against women continue to escalate.
Women are still the most susceptible to HIV infection, with the 15 – 35 age group registering higher vulnerability. The Caribbean is repeatedly cited as one part of the world with a growing incidence of AIDS cases in relation to its population.
Though alarming there are solutions to the struggles of Caribbean women, among them – a living wage or family wage for women who currently do not enjoy decent work (work in which rights are protected, income and social security are adequate) and a policy of non-punitive measures to encourage men to support their children financially and emotionally.
To stem the tide of violence against women a collective effort is needed The Partners’ Forum suggests that all institutions of society must work in tandem and take measures to discourage the acts that lead to violence.
For example, tantrums should be discouraged and reprimanded; anger management learnt at a very early age, sexual harassment should not be tolerated anywhere, sentencing of perpetrators of violence against women must be reflect the seriousness of the crime.
In the fight against HIV the state must provide treatment, medication and care for all persons living with AIDS so that its spread may be minimised.
During the WAMM conference the Partners will present a template of how civil society and governments can work in greater partnership to attain the goals of the Gender Plan of Action.
The Forum will also offer the expertise of women‘s organisations in various countries to develop a model of decentralised planning that allocates resources to women in a more targeted way.
The approach maximizes human development, and demonstrates women’s real contribution to national revenue and productivity.