By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Senior Reporter
EQUALITY Bahamas has led the drafting and endorsement of a global feminist COVID-19 policy agenda that calls for countries to prioritise the needs of people in vulnerable environments, including women, the elderly, disabled, LGBT+, migrants and unhoused people.
Equality Bahamas Director Alicia Wallace sent copies of the manifesto to Social Services Minister Frankie Campbell and Department of Gender and Family Affairs Director Dr Jacinta Higgs.
“We draw attention to the pervasive issue of domestic violence which demands a specific response at all times and now requires a response that addresses the complications caused by broad measures which trap people in homes with abusers and limit opportunities to escape or identify and access support systems,” she wrote. “We call attention to the needs of unhoused people and migrant people for whom specific, responsive systems must be developed and operationalised. There is an overlap between social and economic inequality which, when unaddressed, can lead to abuse of power and criminalisation of vulnerabilities such as poverty. “We call for a review of current procedures, especially following the arrest of unhoused people for breaking curfew when there is a clear need for emergency housing and increased access to information for all.”
Ms Wallace said it is critical the government adopts policies like delivering food to people unable to leave their homes, collecting gender disaggregated data and gender analysis on the infection and mortality rates and impact of COVID-19 crisis on income and mental health and an expanded free internet access to increase access to online educational platforms.
The government, according to the policy agenda, should provide universal basic income for those with lost wages, develop a comprehensive response to domestic violence and remedy potable water issues in communities and homes while building public community sanitisation stations.
The release of the document was coordinated by the Feminist Alliance for Rights (FAR). The manifesto further calls for a moratorium on evictions over rental and mortgage arrears and financial aid to unhoused people and those with disabilities.
The group wants governments to train law enforcement officers, care workers and social workers to recognise vulnerabilities and make necessary adjustments.