by Shamar Blunt
Young women are being encouraged not to classify power within their jobs as being their end goals, but to continue to push the envelope, so that other women may also have their chance at opportunities.
This advice came from Pro Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of the West Indies (UWI) Cave Hill Campus, Professor Eudine Barriteau, as she addressed Sunday’s Pink Parliament launch for its second cohort. Pink Parliament,
which was launched on October 17, 2019, seeks to increase women’s participation in politics through the empowerment of girls ages 14-20.
Professor Barriteau congratulated the group via video call, for completing a successful year of mentoring young women, but encouraged them to think holistically, when it came to tackling issues affecting women.
“I believe that when we focus on women as holders of state, corporate, political, or institutional power, as commendable and praise-worthy as these achievements are, this focus diverts our attention from addressing the ongoing struggles of the vast majority of women who are struggling to make a living. Working class women struggle when approaches to economic growth target and remove necessary social services for the poor, and the already dispossessed,” she said.
Barriteau also revealed that though women were often not seen as the main bread winners in households, whenever significant layoffs occur in the island’s workforce, women were adversely affected.
“Women form a critical majority in Barbados, and all Caribbean societies. Do you know that female-headed houses, and women as workers, are particularly vulnerable when there is any economic decline? For example, in Barbados women comprise 50 percent of low skill workers and workers in the tourism sector, and its related integrated areas. Do you know, that according to the 2016 Barbados Survey of Living Conditions, that approximately 60 percent of home households are headed by women?”
She added: “Pink parliamentarians, I believe if you want to be elected by the people to any parliament, then you have to seek to remove gender specific economic barriers impeding women, and you also have to promote policies benefiting women, and men.”
The professor also warned that players in these important sectors were always quick to voice their support for the advancement of women in important positions, but that young women must not be swayed easily by such rhetoric.
“Commentators have long argued that Caribbean women are all powerful. Those who say that, however, believe that in expressing that view, by making those remarks, can postpone or even prevent any serious examination about the issues surrounding women and power, especially political power,” Barriteau stated.
Co-founder of the group, Roshanna Trim, said herself, and the team behind Pink Parliament, were once again looking forward to another successful year with the group of young women, as they seek to help them chart their paths in their future as leaders.