|Bureau of Women’s Affairs to be upgraded to ‘Department’|
|Thursday, 26 July 2012 06:13|
NASSAU, The Bahamas --- The Government of The Bahamas will “elevate” the Bureau of Women’s Affairs into the Department of Women’s Affairs in order to further satisfy the implementation of certain requirements of the Convention to End All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the United Nations Committee responsible for implementation of the Convention heard.
“Once in effect, this change should have a significant impact on the scope and reach of the national machinery in the implementation of the Convention which will be facilitated and enhanced by the appointment of a Director, and an increase in budgetary, human and other resources,” Minister of Social Services and Community Development the Hon. Melanie S. Griffin said.
“Indeed there has been significant increase in the Bureau’s budget for the 2012/2013 Fiscal Year in preparation for this change.”
Mrs. Griffin’s disclosure came while addressing the CEDAW Committee at the United Nations in New York last week. Other members of the Bahamian delegation were Her Excellency, Dr. Paulette Bethel, Permanent Representative of The Bahamas to the United Nations and Mrs. Barbara Burrows, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Social Services and Community Development.
Ms. Christine Campbell, First Assistant Secretary and Officer-in-Charge of the Bureau of Women’s Affairs, and Ms. Jewel Major, Chief Counsel, Office of the Attorney General; Ms. Patricia “Pat” Francis, First Assistant Secretary, Ministry of Health; Ms. Sharmaine Sinclair, Monitoring and Evaluation Officer, Ministry of Education; Ms. Allison Booker; Ms. Sasha Dixon, Third Secretary, Bahamas Mission to the United Nations and Dr. Ian Bethel-Bennett, member of the Bahamas Gender Policy team were all part of the delegation.Mrs. Griffin said though obstacles remain in The Bahamas in achieving total equality between the sexes, the Government is committed “to actions towards this end.” She said the elevation of the Bureau of Women’s Affairs to a Department, is “one of the more notable developments relating directly to” the Government’s “actions towards this end.”
Another key aspect of the objective is the implementation of a National Gender Policy and a National Five-Year Strategic Plan on Domestic Violence. A draft of the National Gender Policy is expected to reach Cabinet within the third-quarter of the year.
“The Bahamas is currently in the final stages of consultation and review of its draft National Gender Policy which should be submitted to Cabinet within two-to-three months,” Mrs. Griffin said. “This, we envision, will be the harmonising element under which The Bahamas clearly states and implements its policy on gender equality.”
Mrs. Griffin’s Report combined The Bahamas’ Initial, Second, Third and Fourth Periodic Reports and also included its Fifth Periodic Report. While apologising to the Committee and to the CEDAW Secretariat for the country’s “delay in our participation in this Dialogue”, Mrs. Griffin said The Bahamas, in many respects, is an exceptional State Party to the Convention.
The Government, in tandem with the Bureau of Women’s Affairs and “relevant civil society organisations” continue to promote education and awareness of the country’s Domestic Violence (Protection Orders) Act; the Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Act; the Trafficking in Persons (Prevention and Suppression Act) and Disability Issues, and address areas such as education, health, business, judicial, legislative, political, human rights and socio-economic development.
“The Bahamas is in a position to boast an unprecedented level of engagement relative to gender equality and the empowerment of women,” Mrs. Griffin said. “Notwithstanding pressing concerns such as high unemployment and an increasing crime rate which are not exclusive to The Bahamas, the Government is committed to maintaining the momentum required for the achievement of gender equity.”
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