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‘Baffling’ decision to fire Verna say NGOs
Several special interests groups and NGOs are calling on Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar to give an explanation for her “baffling” decision to fire Verna St Rose-Greaves as Minister of Gender, Youth and Child Development. They comprise CAFRA (Caribbean Association for Feminist Research and Action); Caiso (Coalition Advocating the Inclusion of Sexual Orientation); Network of NGOs for the Advancement of Women; Support for Change; WINAD (Women’s Institute for Alternative Development); and Women Working for Social Progress (WorkingWomen).
The organisations said in a press release that they were aware it was the Prime Minister’s right to hire and fire members of the Cabinet. However, they pointed out, the Prime Minister and the People’s Partnership campaigned for a “new politics” of more transparent governance, collaborative decision-making and checks on executive power. The Prime Minister said her Cabinet reshuffle was intended to achieve “the best fit possible” for each ministry.
“We are at a loss to understand how dismissing St Rose-Greaves reflects this.” They concluded she had been sacrificed to political expediency. They said St Rose-Greaves had training, years of experience in the field as a social worker, an activist in the women’s movement and children’s advocate, and “deep sincerity in her vision of a humane, caring society.”
Her leadership and achievements made her close to the best fit they could imagine for the role, the release said. The organisations believe that since St Rose-Greaves was not a minister working for the cameras, many people might not be aware of all the work achieved by her ministry.
They pointed out she had moulded her ministry into a unit, and upgraded programmes inherited from previous regimes, as well as introducing new ones. “She crafted a philosophy based on human-rights principles to guide the work of the ministry; did the groundwork for a national parenting programme; and gave life to the Children’s Authority,” the statement said.
Describing her as visionary and constructive, the NGOs said she had brought the Children Bill to Parliament within five months of being appointed, and had initiated discussion on child marriage, the national gender policy, and a youth policy. “Her work would have contributed to building a culture of peace, the ultimate solution to the violence and criminality that are today rampant in our society,” the NGOs said.
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