Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest.
Photo: Terrel W. Carey/Tribune Staff
DEPUTY Prime Minister and Minister of Finance K Peter Turnquest yesterday underscored the need for all sectors of society to closely collaborate on efforts to close the gender gap.
“Women’s unemployment has been persistently higher than unemployment amongst men, and this is just one area we need to address so that our country can maximize the potential of all citizens,” Mr Turnquest said in a statement marking International Women’s Day.
“Research has shown that women's economic empowerment boosts productivity, increases economic diversification and income equality in addition to other positive development outcomes. On this International Women’s Day, we honour the contributions women have made to the economic development of the nation, and recommit to ensuring women are full participants in the economic life and welfare of the nation,” he added.
A new report by the International Labour Organization (ILO), released on March 8, calls for a “quantum leap” forward to gender equality.
In “A quantum leap for gender equality: For a better future of work for all” the organization underscores the provision of care, particularly linked to motherhood, persists as a critical obstacle to advancing gender equality around the world.
The report also makes a series of recommendations for countries to implement "a transformative and measurable agenda for gender equality.
Tracking progress, the report found that the difference in the employment rates for men and women has shrunk by less than two percentage points in the last 27 years – and in 2018, women are still 26 percentage points less likely to be in employment than men.
Equality Bahamas director Alicia Wallace yesterday commended the report, which she described as a useful tool to evidence gender inequality in the workplace.
“Economic equality is not proven by the presence of women in frontline or customer service positions,” Ms Wallace, a Bahamian activist, said.
“This visibility and perceived ‘dominence’ of women at work does not translate to the board room. There is a marked difference in the jobs hiring, retaining, and promoting women and men, and it is rooted in a gender ideology used to determine aptitude and financial responsibility.
She continued: “Women are working and have been for a long time, but opportunity, advancement, and compensation – as revealed by the UN's Human Development Index report of a 30% wage gap – are not equal. This is the kind of evidence we need to support agitation for change, and we need to be able to collect, analyze, and share data.
Ms Wallace said: “The attention to women's unpaid care work, penalties of motherhood, and experiences of harassment in the report is particularly important as we work to expose the challenges faced, often silently, sensitize the government administration, political parties, businesses, and individuals, and work to address them with legal reform and policy in the public and private spheres.”