By AVA TURNQUEST
Tribune Chief Reporter
WOMEN hold the majority of senior leadership positions in nearly every public sector but politics and law enforcement, according to statistics presented by Social Services Minister Frankie Campbell yesterday.
Mr Campbell addressed the United Nation’s committee on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in Geneva, Switzerland as part of the country’s state review.
The session marked the country’s sixth periodic state report, with its last appearance in July 2012.
The highest percentage of women were seen at the director-level in the public service, with 78 percent; and in health with 75 percent of hospital administrators being female.
Sixty-eight percent of judges, registrars, and magistrates are women, Mr Campbell said.
“In politics, five percent of Cabinet ministers, 12 percent of parliamentarians and 43 percent of senators are women,” he continued.
“In the public service, women represent 78 percent of our directors, women hold 57 percent representation in local government; 31 percent of our local Family Island administrators and nine percent of our chief councillors are women. Moreover, 65 percent of our permanent secretaries are women, and the secretary to the Cabinet is a woman.”
He added: “In education, 64 percent of the professors at the University of The Bahamas are female; and 65 percent of our school principals are women. In health, 45 percent of our physicians and 75 percent of our hospital administrators are women. In trade unions, 53 percent of the presidents of the National Congress of Trade Unions are women.
“In law enforcement agencies, 23 percent of police officers, including an assistant commissioner, 22 percent of defence force officers, four percent of prison officers and 50 percent of immigration officers are women.”
In the May 2017 general elections, 40 of the 194 nominated candidates were women.
During his remarks, Mr Campbell also characterised the task of governance as one of “enormity”, detailing the vast nature of the country’s archipelago of some seven hundred islands and cays.
Mr Campbell explained the challenge of “promoting and protecting the economic, social, cultural, civil, and political rights of Bahamians and visitors” are exacerbated by economic and financial crisis; unemployment; crime; increasing frequency and intensity of natural disasters due to climate change; the cost of accessing remote islands; undocumented migration, and border security.
However, he noted the country’s desire to overcome challenges, and pointed to its election to the Human Rights Council for the term 2019 to 2021 as a demonstrable effort.
Noting successive governments have eliminated many forms of discrimination against women in education, Mr Campbell revealed women captured 63 percent of the 480 scholarships awarded by the government for the 2017-2018 school year.
Grants and scholarships for the year 2015 at the University of The Bahamas were awarded to 754 men and 2,144 women, he said.
Noting the two failed constitutional referenda, Mr Campbell explained the government is drafting an amendment to the Bahamas Nationality Act in a bid to promote gender equality.
The government’s delegation to the UN included: Frank Davis, chargé d’affaires/deputy permanent representative, Permanent Mission of The Bahamas in Geneva; Dr Jacinta Higgs, director, and Melvelyn Symonette, first assistant secretary, of the Department of Gender and Family Affairs; Jewel Major, chief counsel, and Alicia Gibson, assistant counsel, of the Office of the Attorney General and Ministry of Legal Affairs; Sherry Armbrister, senior nursing officer, Ministry of Health; Sharmaine Sinclair, assistant director, Ministry of Education; Sasha Dixon, second secretary, Permanent Mission of The Bahamas in Geneva and Celsus Williams assistant secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Kathryn Campbell, senior Information Officer, Bahamas Information Services; Ms Virginia Hall-Campbell and Dwina Higgs, project manager, were also present.