Last update: 09-Dec-2013 1:43 am
Monday, December 09, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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De Coteau on new ministerial portfolio: I am well versed in gender issues
After a widely-lauded stint as Minister of National Diversity and Social Integration, Clifton De Coteau was, perhaps surprisingly, moved from the ministry he had forged a vision for, as well as developing strong links with the arts and heritage communities, and given a new role as Minister of Gender, Youth and Child Development in last month’s Cabinet reshuffle. In an e-mail interview with the T&T Guardian, De Coteau explained what he will bring to his new role and why his background and credentials make him suitable for the position.
What’s become of the gender policy?
The policy is being considered by the Cabinet.
What will be your priorities as minister?
The Government’s social transformational agenda as it pertains to the mandate of the ministry, focusing largely on youth and child development. The platform has been laid for the establishment of the National Youth Commission, a strategy to support youth in especially challenging circumstances (youth at risk), the proclamation of the Children Act, the Children’s Authority Act and the Children’s Community Residences, Foster Care and Nurseries Act, 2000. We will be rolling out the national parenting programme and developing the national parenting policy which was approved by the Cabinet. We will implement a modernisation programme for children’s community residences in Trinidad. We will establish a children’s registry, implementing a national strategy for child rights and establishing our autistic support centre to provide services that support the development of autistic children. We will be increasing access to psychosocial counselling and support services for vulnerable children and adolescents in remote and depressed areas.
Do you have a background in gender issues?
Yes, as a government minister and educator with years of experience in helping to shape and develop young people (sic) minds and lives as well as my experience working with families and communities, I am of the view that I am well versed in gender issues.
What’s your opinion of the current status quo re equality?
I am guided by the Constitution of T&T. The Constitution provides for equality of treatment for all citizens. Institutional arrangements are put in place to ensure that the rights of citizens are upheld. Do you think a man is the best person for the job? I see a female minister of state has been appointed alongside you. The Prime Minister has indicated that ministers are appointed in a ministry based on their skills and competencies to achieve the desired outcomes. Further, gender speaks to male and female therefore equality exists in having both a male and female in the appointment of this ministry.
What is your position on decriminalising homosexuality?
I am guided by the law.
Any comment on the under-resourcing of the Children’s Authority?
As I indicated previously, the Government is committed to the full operationalisation of the Children’s Authority. Cabinet appointed a committee to look at the operationalisation of the authority.
The authority has a strategic plan which was developed in 2012 and resources have been allocated according to its annual projections, just as with other ministries. The authority has been allocated $18,730,000 towards recurrent and $5,000,000 towards its development programme expenditure for 2013. Recently the Cabinet approved the organisational structure of the authority, thus it enables the authority to build capacity. The authority has advertised the positions and they are currently in the process of filling them. Additionally, an agreement was made between the Children’s Authority and the North Central Regional Health Authority for an assessment centre to be established at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex. The ministry will commence construction of two assessment centres in Chaguanas and Ste Madeleine, respectively, in fiscal year 2013/ 2014. The ministry continues to provide support to the authority in advancing the legislations to enable it to be fully operationalised.
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