BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – A senior European Union diplomat says while women in the Caribbean have made “outstanding strides” in recent years, they, like their European counterparts, are still yet to completely shatter the glass ceiling.
In a message to mark International Women’s Day on Wednesday, the EU Delegation Ambassador to Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean States, the OECS, and CARICOM/CARIFORUM, Daniela Tramacere, said In the Caribbean, women have made outstanding strides and in a few countries — Dominica, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago for example — women have reached the highest levels of power.
“Yes, strides are being made as more women in the Caribbean are becoming decision makers, which suggests that inequality at the workplace is slowly becoming a thing of the past. Also in Barbados one can see such progress.
“Yet there are still glass ceilings to be shattered. In the region as well as in Europe, women are still generally underrepresented in politics and in boardrooms; domestic violence and sexual harassment in the workplace are too often commonplace – despite some laudable legislative efforts,” Tramacere said.
The EU diplomat said that as for violence against women and girls, it is one of the most widespread, persistent and devastating human rights violations in the world today.
She said the European Union is contributing to gender equality in the region by mainstreaming gender in all EU funded cooperation programmes as well as by funding specific gender equality actions.
“The EU has become more ambitious with the Gender Action Plan II and its vision for 2016-2020. Our “gender architecture” has evolved significantly.
“We have decided to focus on pivotal areas, which we think could transform the lives of women and girls if real action is taken by ensuring girls’ and women’s physical and psychological integrity; by promoting the social and economic rights/empowerment of girls and women; by strengthening girls’ and women’s voice and participation as well as by ensuring that we deliver on our commitment more effectively.”
The Barbados-based diplomat said that last September the European Union launched its new global programme to end all forms of violence against women and girls, titled the “Spotlight Initiative”. Implemented by the UN and backed up by an unprecedented Euro 500 million from the EU, the Initiative will place girls’ and women’s physical and psychological integrity at the centre of efforts to achieve gender equality and women’s empowerment.
“The name reminds us that violence often takes place in the dark, is denied or rendered invisible and that it cannot survive in the light,” she said, noting that “it is not always about the big money, and I am particularly proud of a much smaller-scale project that was designed here in the Caribbean and is going global now”.
She said the EU-funded “None in Three” project has developed a serious pro-social computer game to teach children and young people about domestic violence.
“It has been scientifically proven to increase children’s empathy by enabling them to engage emotionally with the characters. Complemented by qualitative and quantitative research, training and a social media campaign, this highly innovative, first of its kind initiative is now being adapted in countries across the world: China, India, Jamaica, Uganda and the United Kingdom. It is a shining example of how Europe and the Caribbean can lead the way.”
Tramacere said that for her as a woman “it is easy not to forget the challenges women face every day,” and that she is certain every woman has a story to tell.
“International Women’s Day gives all of us, men and women, an additional opportunity to take a moment to observe and become aware of the persisting gender gaps in our everyday life….. and to take action for a more equitable, sustainable, progressive society,” she said, noting that gender equality and empowerment of women and girls are fundamental human rights.
“Both are also vital for economic growth, prosperity and competitiveness. Gender equality is an essential precondition for equitable and inclusive sustainable development, which will not take place if half of the world’s population is left behind.
“That is why the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls is a key objective of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations,” she added. – CMC