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Loretta Butler-Turner Discusses the Economic Effects of Gender Equality
By Loretta Butler Turner
Apr 13, 2016 - 11:24:02 PM

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Mrs Butler-Turner is seen pictured with attendees at the Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce meeting last week. Photo: Derek Carroll

Loretta Butler-Turner Discusses the Economic Effects of Gender Equality

(April 10th) Shadow Minister of Labour and Social Development, Loretta Butler-Turner addressed Grand Bahamians last week at the Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce March Business Meeting. In her address, she highlighted the economic importance of gender equality in the Bahamas.

“Everyone, no matter one’s gender, should be allowed equal opportunity to participate fully in society.

“Everyone, regardless of gender, should have access to education and training, and other similar opportunities.

“Everyone, regardless of gender, should be considered for employment or professional opportunities, based on merit, talent and work ethic.

“Every Bahamian should have equal rights, including the right to automatically pass on citizenship to their children.”

She noted that the commonwealth of values and rights enshrined in our constitution is not fully realized by all our citizens.

Mrs. Butler Turner emphasized that it is a “fundamental right” for the children of Bahamian parent-citizens, regardless of race, creed or sex to receive citizenship despite where they were born.

“There remains inequality in our constitution toward a certain class of women and single men who have children with non-Bahamian woman”, she added.

“Either we are fully equal, or we are not equal.”

Mrs Butler-Turner adddesses the audience. Photo: Derek Carroll

Butler-Turner recognized that as a country there is much more we can do to keep up with global trends regarding gender equality; specifically socially and economically. She referenced case studies that have analyzed how gender equality can positively impact an economy. In sharing her findings from an IMF study titled “Women, Work and the Economy”, she noted that “if the number of female workers was raised to the same level as that of men in the United Arab Emirates, GDP would expand by 12 percent, in Japan by 9 percent, and in the United States by 5 percent.”

In discussing the Bahamian landscape, Mrs. Butler-Turner supported the position of former Prime Minister and FNM party leader, Hubert Ingraham, stating that with women making up approximately half of the population that he was not prepared to dismiss half of the talent in the country.

She asked, “Would you throw away half of your own personal talents and ability? If this sounds ludicrous, why do we so often dismiss women in various areas of national life?”

Mrs. Butler-Turner acknowledged that in a large number of Bahamian families the female is the breadwinner and/or the most educated of the partners.

“Any issue affecting a woman's take home pay will affect their ability to raise and educate their children who are the future of the Bahamas.”

She expressed her understanding to the many injustices that Bahamian women experience as a result of gender inequality; varying from xenophobic home ownership policies, to discriminatory immigration laws when returning home from abroad with a foreign husband and child.

Butler-Turner acknowledged that there are some bright spots, specifically for women in public service, but recognizes that The Bahamas stands to prosper a lot more socially and economically by fully embracing gender equality.

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