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Columns : Letters to The Editor Last Updated: Sep 22, 2021 - 2:09:03 AM

Equality Bahamas Welcomes Women in Parliament to Advocate for Human Rights
By Equality Bahamas
Sep 21, 2021 - 6:13:54 PM

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Equality Bahamas welcomes the seven women elected to Parliament to join its advocacy for the promotion, protection, and expansion of all women’s human rights. It encourages all parliamentarians to create a culture of gender sensitivity and publicly acknowledging the diverse and specific experiences of women and girls—including LBTQ+ women, women with disabilities, women experiencing poverty, and women engaged in unpaid care work—and the gender-specific response needed.

“We call on the women in Parliament to recognize women and girls as their shared constituency,” said Alicia Wallace, Director of Equality Bahamas. A gender-sensitive approach is needed at all levels of governance. “This includes engaging constituents, drafting legislation, developing policies, designing and executing programs and activities, and contributing to the national budget.” The advancement of women and the country does not depend on the seven women, but requires all parliamentarians to consider gender dynamics and the specific impact of every action on women and girls, and commit to gender equality.

Both major political parties in The Bahamas have contributed to dismal representation of women, particularly as they each only ratified seven women—18% of their candidates—for the 2021 general election. Equality Bahamas calls on The Government of The Bahamas to implement a 50% quota, requiring gender balance on all political party candidate slates. “The 2021 election has clearly shown the correlation between representation on party slates and in Parliament, particularly when there is a landslide. Both parties had seven women candidates, and we now have seven women in Parliament. We can set a higher standard and have better outcomes,” Ms. Wallace said.

Consistent with CEDAW and the Concluding Observations of the CEDAW Committee, the CARICOM Statement Preparatory to CSW 65, Convention Belém do Pará, and the Sustainable Development Goals, the administration must take action to create an enabling environment for women’s full participation in political life, and Equality Bahamas is prepared to support this work. It looks forward to appropriate appointments to Cabinet and the Senate, and proper resourcing of the Department of Gender and Family Affairs including qualified staff with demonstrated commitment to human rights and gender equality.

Equality Bahamas is developing a community-sourced set of Feminist Standards for Governance 2021-2026 which will be delivered to the Government of The Bahamas and shared with the public in October 2021. It looks forward to engaging with representatives, participating in legal reform and policymaking, and ensuring that women, girls, and LGBTQI+ people are able to participate in decision-making processes that affect their lives.

Equality Bahamas is a feminist volunteer-led organization that promotes women’s and LGBTQI+ people’s rights as human rights through advocacy, public education, and community engagement. It centers people in situations of vulnerability as it sets priorities, develops advocacy plans, and designs programs.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in his/her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of TheBahamasWeekly.com

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