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Feminists: Make gender policy Women’s Day gift
Lecturer at University of the West Indies’ (UWI) Institute for Gender and Development Studies Dr Gabrielle Hosein is calling on Government to announce its approval of the draft gender policy by International Women’s Day (March 8). Hosein made the call in an e-mailed response to questions from the T&T Guardian yesterday.
Former Gender Minister Verna St-Rose-Greaves has released the final draft of the gender policy, compiled while she was the relevant line minister. In the policy, issues such as male under achievement and women’s sexual rights are addressed in broader sections covering domestic and family life and health and well-being.
“The feminist movement have long called for the policy to be approved by the Cabinet and we continue to do so now. Government must show some progressive leadership and finally take a principled stand on the basis of equity, equality, safety and development for all. We call on the government to announce approval of a national gender policy for T&T by International Women’s Day on March 8,” Hosein said.
Hosein applauded St Rose-Greaves for putting the document in the public domain. “Decades of advocacy have left us to date without a clearly-stated state policy position on how gender issues in areas from agriculture to political leadership are to be addressed.
“Now the public can understand the government’s rationale for the programmes it plans to institute to improve the lives of girls, boys, women and men.
“What is obvious from a reading of the draft policy is that it is based on a human-rights framework which can only benefit all citizens, and that it aims to create greater opportunities for, among other things, equality, freedom from violence, sustainable employment, empowering education and healthy family life,” she said.
The “panic”, she said, over the implementation of the policy could now end since the government’s failure to put the policy in the public domain resulted in misinformation. She was asked also if there was anything she wished to change in the policy.
“At this point, and given the complexity of different people’s views in the society, I think the document says what it needs to. It speaks to the decriminalisation of discrimination as a right of all and a public health policy that enables women to access safe health care in all its forms.
“It also attempts to provide a much-needed framework for tackling crime, violence, citizen security and poverty from a gendered perspective that takes into account the needs and realities of men and boys in addition to girls and women.” Hazel Brown, co-ordinator of the Network of NGOs for the Advancement of Women, also applauded St Rose-Greaves for placing the document in the public domain.
“It is totally acceptable. It is way better than the version of ‘09,” she said. Brown, who was part of a Cabinet-appointed committee that worked on the policy, said the consultations for the draft were “perfect.” She said the policy was stopped because of the negative press it received from religious groups.
“On March 8 we are going back on the streets to demand that the Cabinet of T&T keeps its promise,” she said. She urged people to read the policy. Brown and other groups are expected to meet on the Brian Lara Promenade on March 8 and walk the streets of Port-of-Spain demanding that the Government approve the policy. Calls to Marlene Coudray, current Gender Affairs minister, went unanswered yesterday.
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