After two days of meetings with business community and a third scheduled on Friday with the trade unions, it seems Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler will now have to smooth over the harsh 2017-2018 budgetary measures with single mothers in this country.
The National Organization for Women (NOW) has signalled its intention to seek a mandate from this country’s women to agitate on behalf of single mothers.
First vice president Mechelle Marshall told Barbados TODAY that single mothers have been left out of the assessment of vulnerable groups who will be most affected by the tax burdens set to take effect in about a week, on July 1, including a 400 per cent increase in the National Social Responsibility Levy (NSRL).
“We are very concerned that the women of Barbados are going to be in some major trouble as a result of these measures . . . . It is going to be a major issue on our [agenda] as we look at the status of women and have a conversation about how we would be able to negotiate for the women of Barbados,” she said.
Stopping short of accusing the Freundel Stuart administration of chauvinism, Marshall said she was not surprised the plight of single mothers was ignored when Sinckler delivered the Budget on May 30.
“Women and girls will always be marginalized as a result of the patriarchal order of Government and the way power is distributed, but in light of that [existing] disenfranchisement, they are coming now with a further economic disenfranchisement. So I can only see that there needs to be a position made for some representation to protect this section of society,” the women’s advocate insisted.
Along with the private sector, the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) and the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) are up in arms over the austerity measures, predicting significant fallout in spending power and security of tenure for workers. The trade unions have called on Sinckler to provide a coping subsidy to public servants in the face of the new measures.
While he has acknowledged concerns of the business community and the unions, Marshall is concerned that Sinckler “has yet to reach out to the single mothers who would now be required work miracles on a lone income.
“The infrastructure even as it relates to the purchase of uniforms for children going back to school will present significant challenges,” she said, adding that children in these single-parent homes would be impacted physically and psychology by their mothers’ struggle with the significant hike in cost of living.
Just as the unions have proposed a coping subsidy, the NOW vice president is demanding that Government put a plan in place to protect single mothers.
“We are talking about Government’s social responsibility to protect the vulnerable population . . . . Most of the women that inhabit our jurisdiction we would consider them vulnerable, and the Budget would certainly put them at a greater vulnerability,” Marshall contended.
The NOW official did not state what action her organization was prepared to take if the minister did not address their concerns.
Marshall said the executive would meet next week to formalize its position.