GOVERNMENT DEFENDS ITS RECORD ON THE ADVANCEMENT OF WOMEN; DENOUNCES CLAIMS OF VICTIMIZATION

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, March 13, 2017 (Press Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister) – Prime Minister Dr. the Hon. Timothy Harris and Minister of Gender Affairs, Senator the Honourable Wendy Phipps, have strongly defended the Team Unity Government’s record with respect to the empowerment of women, in the face of criticism peddled by the Opposition.

Prime Minister Harris, addressing the nation during his monthly press conference on Thursday (March 9), said while it is expected for a government to receive criticism(s) in a democratic state, the question one must ask is, are they fair criticism(s)—to which he stated, “By and large, the answer will be no.”

Responding to claims of what some have labelled as “victimization” against women, Dr. Harris said there’s no proof to back such claims.

“Who are these women? That’s one of the first things the press must ask and try to understand what had been their relationship,” the prime minister stated. “Some would have abandoned their jobs, some could not just outright function because they couldn’t deal with the fact that the democratic will brought a change in the pendulum. I wouldn’t call that victimization; no fair- minded person will bring that, and this is part of the mischief.”

“Look at the record, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Finance is the same one that we met there. So what do you say in relation to that fact? The chief personnel officer is the same one we inherited from the former administration. Well it’s the chief personnel officer left by that administration that has responsibility for advice and determination with respect to personnel matters, so how would there be victimization?” the honourable prime minister questioned.

In her response, Senator Phipps stated that the record of the Department of Gender Affairs, with which the advancement of women is vested, speaks for itself.

The minister highlighted several measures taken by the government to further improve the lives of women across St. Kitts and Nevis, including the approval of a draft Domestic Violence and Reporting Protocol.

“That document, which the Cabinet has already seen fit to approve, is now going to be the subject of a national consultation to get another round of feedback and then once that feedback is garnered then the consultant will bring back yet a greater reincarnation of that document back to the Cabinet, which then informs national policy and legislation as it relates to gender violence etc,” the Hon. Wendy Phipps said.

The minister also made reference to the UNESCO funded Single Mother’s Advancement Resilience and Training (SMART) Project, which was launched in St. Kitts and Nevis on Thursday, March 9.

According to Senator Phipps, around 100 single mothers are now enrolled in the 8-month project that is “designed to empower them to take up their rightful positions, not just in terms of parenting children that may have been unplanned, but for them to get back on the track of advancing themselves academically and professionally and of course we are doing that against the backdrop that we have recognized through our own data collection and also the work of international agencies that at least 50 per cent of our households are headed by single mothers, which then tells us by extension that even the government’s housing programme that was recently launched would have, by example, at least 50 per cent of the applicants being women.”

In observation of International Women’s Day, celebrated worldwide on March 8, the government, through the Department of Gender Affair, has organized a month of activities that will highlight the achievement and advancement of women in St. Kitts and Nevis.

Activities for the month-long celebration include a round table discussion on the role of men and women in the home; a one-day consultative workshop on the Domestic Violence and Reporting Protocol; distribution of care packages to shut-ins; the presentation of a short documentation featuring the two oldest women in the federation and a health march and rally at Independence Square.

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