Barbadian males are being told they have no reason to fear that the empowerment of women will lead to the disenfranchisement of men.
Addressing an International Women’s Day march today organized by the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU), Wilma Clement, the union’s gender affairs coordinator, suggested that Barbadian men felt threatened by increased rights for women, which include economic empowerment.
“Persons need to understand that as you empower women you also empower men and you in turn empower societies and the country. Rights for women does not mean that rights for men are any less because the feeling seems to be ‘it’s them or us,’” Clement told Barbados TODAY ahead of the march organized in observance of the day, and which brought to an end a four-day seminar on gender relations.
The march attracted a sprinkling of men, a situation that did not escape Clement, who said a number of local businesses were complicit in promoting division among the sexes.
“I am not happy with the ratio of men [supporting the march] and this is because of the same things that we are speaking out against such as the attitudes. Businesses have the same attitude as well because we have invited a number of men but some of them told us that their bosses said that it is a women’s thing so they don’t need to go. We have some but not enough and that has to be of some concern because we will not be able to change anything unless we have the support of the men,” she lamented.
It was on Monday that the BWU official had accused her own union of limiting the number of leadership opportunities for women, arguing that while the union was headed by a woman – General Secretary Toni Moore – and while women constituted the majority of its membership, most of its leaders were male.
However, this morning Clement told Barbados TODAY that following the seminar there was now a concerted effort to identify and promote female leaders within the BWU.
“I’m really proud of the progress on this occasion and I have heard from them this time around and they have decided that after today that they are going to get together and formulate some strategies to identify potential women leaders and to work with them,” she said.
“This will prepare them to assume leadership positions and also the men have pledged to support them when they get those positions,” Clement added.