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Gender equality a major concern

Gender-based violence has been identified as one of the most worrying issues here for the United Nations when it comes to gender equality.

Also of major concern is teenage pregnancy, says Caribbean representative for UN Women, Christine Arab.

And despite progress in some areas in addressing gender inequality, there is still a lot more work to be done.

Arab’s comments came today at the close of a three-day workshop on the draft of the Convention On The Elimination Of All Forms Of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). The final report is to be presented to the Government in about two weeks. The workshop was held at the 3W’s Oval.

“The level of gender-based violence, domestic violence, intimate partner violence, however you categorize it, is unacceptably high,” said Arab, as she gave an idea of the findings contained in the draft of the CEDAW report.

“It is not specific to Barbados I should point out. It is [a] global phenomena and certainly the Caribbean [statistic] is too high when it comes to sexual abuse and physical abuse of women and girls,” said the regional representative.

Arab explained the difference between the age of consent and the age of access to reproductive health was also “an issue in a number of countries”. In Barbados the age of consent is 16 while the age for accessing reproductive health is 18 years.

“I think for the UN, teenage pregnancies is a serious concern and I would say that even if government officials aren’t saying it in front of the media they are raising it in front of the UN, across the board, as a real concern,” Arab told reporters.

“And we are talking intergenerational sex more often than not. If you look at the trends of HIV or STDs, the girls of a certain age bracket and boys at a certain age bracket don’t have the same prevalence rate, which is indicative of the fact that girls are having sex with older men; ten, 15, 20 years older. That is a significant problem and needs to be discussed with young people about the pressures that are resulting in allowing for that,” she added.

Supporting Arab in her comments was director at the Bureau of Gender Affairs Patricia Hackett-Codrington, who said there needed to be more programmes that engage young people on the issues.

“So that they speak for themselves [and] help us to  understand what the issues are then we can make the interventions to stop the problem,” added Hackett-Codrington.

The officials also lamented the fact that there was very little data in Barbados and the region when it comes to gender-based violence and other issues relating to gender inequality.

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