Opposition Leader Bishop Joseph Atherley is lobbying for improved circumstances for women on the lower end of the economic scale in Barbados under the presidency of Dame Sandra Mason.
He made a specific call for a presidential commission to improve the lot of single mothers, after Dame Sandra was today elected by members of both Houses of Parliament as the island’s first non-executive Head of State when Barbados becomes a Parliamentary Republic on November 30.
“May I suggest humbly… and express the hope, that with the fully expressed support of all political parties we can see in the earliest practicable period of this new presidency, the setting up of a Presidential Commission mandated to lead in the development of a National Charter for Single Mothers,” Bishop Atherley said.
“Among our female population, this is a particular category of women with their own distinct challenges.”
He made the suggestion after noting that while some women in society had achieved much, many were still being left behind.
“The advancement of women in our society, our economy, our governance structure is very evident and welcomed. But equally evident is the fact that that movement is taking place among women at the higher levels of socio-economic life in Barbados, while women at the lower levels face a persistent reality of hardship and challenge.
“I speak of the likes of shop assistants, gas attendants, security guards, domestics/maids, factory workers, hotel workers, etc. It is my view that a high priority in the new republic headed by a woman, therefore, must be that we change that situation,” the Opposition Leader said.
He said change in Barbados’ constitutional status is not sufficiently meaningful unless the plight of people is changed for the better, “and radically so”.
“It cannot be that we elect a woman as our first President, have a female as our Prime Minister and not realise that a much more robust effort is imperatively and urgently needed to counter the trinity of evil – that is, economic exploitation of our women in the workplace, sexual harassment of our young ladies in vulnerable settings, and female domestic abuse now perceived as a cultural norm and par for the course,” Bishop Atherley said. (DP)