‘Both genders’ must work at equality
UNTIL BOTH genders get on board, gender equality in Barbados will never become a reality, says Minister of Commerce Donville Inniss.
Speaking during the launch of the Women’s Entrepreneurs Cooperative Society Ltd at The St Michael School last Sunday, he said both women and men were guilty of hindering the effort.
“We must ask ourselves if women in this society are still being treated as second-class citizens. We have moved from the plantocracy system to one where everybody has the opportunity to reach the highest academic heights, but have we reached a level of equality among the sexes?” he asked.
Inniss said he encountered cases of women being appointed in key positions and people asking how they got there and who they had relationships with to get to the position, despite having a master’s degree and working hard.
“Sad to say, I submit to you that when women in our Barbadian society achieve these higher positions, people still frown upon them and ask some silly questions. Until we reach the day that we accept that women have the right to these positions, I don’t think we can say that we are a genuinely fair society,” he said.
However, the minister said women too were guilty of trying to pull their own down by refusing to support other women and holding them back. He added that some women felt the only way to push the feminine agenda was to tear down men.
“No society can truly progress unless both boys and girls are moving forward in the same direction and at the same speed. Therefore I firmly believe that as we empower women more and more in this society, that our young men maintain the same level of empowerment.”
As for the new cooperative, Inniss said it was part of something that played an important part in the socio-economic development of Barbados, a movement that had helped to contain costs, address market access issues and facilitate the growth of members.
He said the importance of the cooperative movement in Barbados could not be ignored.
Inniss added that the Women’s Entrepreneurs Co-operative Society was a “wonderful collaboration” where women had come together to do something very constructive.
Co-operative president Undene Whittaker said the organisation came about out of the need for economic security for the members of the Women Entrepreneurs of Barbados. She said it started with a savings programme in 2001 and blossomed into the cooperative, formed in July.