‘Not enough women’ in leadership

Representative – UN Women Multi-Country Office Caribbean Tonni Brodber sees International Women’s Day as necessary to celebrate women’s work.

As women around the world marked the UN-enshrined day dedicated to honouring social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women yesterday, Brodber candidly discussed issues around which the day seeks to drive awareness, such as gender equality, reproductive rights and violence against women, during a courtesy call on Editor-in-Chief of the Nation Publishing Co. Limited, Carol Martindale.

It was a busy day for the UN official who said: “We need this day to celebrate women’s work which is often overlooked. If we want to achieve gender equality by 2030, US$360 billion has to be invested every year.

“When you look at how much is spent on defence, how much is spent on the response to crime every year, if we invested this it would be a prevention mechanism in itself, instead of just responding consistently to symptoms of inequality,” Brodber contended.

She said there were still not enough women in significant leadership positions across the board in the Caribbean, in spite of the 30 per cent at the level of political participation.

“Thirty per cent is not that large, but 30 per cent is when you start being a token,” Brodber observed, while also making the point that female chief executive officers of business were nine per cent and of that number, only one per cent had employees.

She commended former Deputy Prime Minister Dame Billie Miller, an advocate for women’s reproductive rights, for pushing for legislation in the 1980s to protect those rights. Dame Billie was minister of health in a Barbados Labour Party administration who spearheaded the legalisation of abortion in 1983. Brodber said those rights were now under threat.

“We are taking messages and very non-transparent messages and cues from non-transparent sources and saying this is what is now the truth. It is a form of neo-colonialism that is extremely strange, because people are using and misusing faith as the guise for it. But it is serving a backlash to the rights that were so hard-won for people to make choices for themselves,” she told Martindale.

She added that the United Nations, “which has to be the most transparent ever”, was now being said “to be pushing an agenda that is non-transparent”.

“We do have some work to do to fight the misinformation that is fuelling backlash against these hard-won gains, because we still have a long way to go,” Brodber said.

During the courtesy call, Martindale, reflecting on the theme of the day #InspireInclusion, spoke of the importance of mentoring and bringing other women along. She said it was critical women not only be represented across all areas, but also that they are heard and there is not just equality but equity.

“Tokenism has no place,” she said, noting that while there had been many strides to reach this stage, there was still a lot more to be done. (GC)

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