Boosting the number of women in entrepreneurship and the trades make sense for the economy, as well as for industries experiencing skill shortages.
That was the suggestion from Claudia Groome-Duke, Secretary of Health and Social Services in the Tobago House of Assembly (THA), in the feature address at the recent Women In Service And Excellence (Wise) Awards in Lowlands Tobago.
Groome-Duke said increasing women's labour options increases their financial security and independence. She added that sustainable development cannot be achieved without entrepreneurship and innovation as the backbone.
"A nation cannot survive by depending on Government to invest solely and provide welfare support. Entrepreneurs, through civil society, the private sector, individuals and organisations, are a vital link in the transformation of low income traditional economies to modern, thriving, competitive economies.
"In developed societies entrepreneurs and the private sector contribute to more than 50 per cent of the GDP and this is where we must aim to be by creating a base through initiatives," she said.
Groome-Duke said the THA recognised this and had set up several programmes, including the Healthy Homes, Healthy Families initiative, where a health team visits households for screening and assessment in the primary health care programme and the Realising Your Economic Achievement Programme (Reach) where the THA has given some $2 million in grants to more than 400 families.
She said in the last year, the Division of Health and Social Services had partnered with Ytepp to help more than 120 women transition from Cepep to trades, projects and initiatives.
"We are poorer as a society when women are not adequately represented among our leaders. On going action is vital. A balanced gender representation and participation needs to be present at all levels in organisations, in the community, business and government sectors," Groome-Duke said.