Minister in the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Investment Marsha Caddle has suggested that even though Barbados introduced Early Childhood Education before many other developing countries, and has invested greatly in state-owned nurseries, access to affordable daycare facilities is still an outstanding issue for Barbadian women.
Caddle said there was a need for better and stronger policies as it relates to care in the workplace, including maternity and paternity leave, in addition to flexible work hours.
“It is a policy that I would say is at the cusp of being the subject of consultation and rollout in the public sector,” Caddle said, as she addressed the Soroptimist International Barbados Club Professional Development Workshop entitled Sister Put Your Best Food Forward, today.
She said that while the erection of daycare facilities in and around commercial developments was one of the policies being explored some time ago, as time passed, private sector development projects have taken over without making provisions for accessible affordable daycare close to where people are working.
“I would say that still, for what I call working class communities, one of the things that keep them in and out of the labour market is still childcare and elderly care because we live in a population that is aging. People are living longer and it increases what we call the dependency ratio in a household, which is how many people are depending on a particular income from a particular person.
“We know that dependency ratios are higher in households that are headed by women and we know that households headed by women are larger. So households headed by men tend to be smaller, let’s say four or five people compared to a household led by women,” she said.
Caddle added that households were growing in the pandemic as persons who can no longer afford to pay rent have to move back home or seek accommodation elsewhere.
As she shared a sample of Government’s plan to support and empower women, Caddle said provisions were also being made for women to have better access to finance, particularly for those that have been able to expand their businesses during this difficult period.
Caddle said in an effort to assist women in expanding their businesses, she has been spearheading a project to restructure the Enterprise Growth Fund Limited, an initiative that would eventually lead to better financing opportunities for women.
She also noted that Government has to make sure it creates an enabling environment for the growth of digital businesses. She said at this moment, sellers in Barbados were finding it difficult to participate in digital market places as a result of payment restrictions.
“And once we saw that, as we are doing through this legislation and as we will do with coming legislation, then people with products will be able to sell on Amazon, people will be able to create their own unified market places and sell, but we need to first create the digital environment for that. For me, that’s one of the huge opportunities for women’s business. There is a range of services that can be offered online,” she said. (AH)