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    Women remain under-represented in many sectors of society despite their increasing achievements in areas such as education and health, Minister of Social Services and Community Development, the Hon. Melanie Sharon Griffin said Wednesday. This is especially so at the global, political level where Mrs. Griffin said only 10 of the more than 190 countries recognized by the United Nations currently have female leaders. That is roughly 5 per cent of all world leaders. “This is a far cry from the 50:50 by 2030 that is envisaged in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals,” Mrs. Griffin added. Planet 50:50 by 2030, is a United Nations initiative that speaks to among other things, the equal representation of males and females around key decision-making tables, including the highest level of political leadership. The initiative promotes gender equality around the globe. Gender equality is central to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development -- the global plan agreed by leaders of all countries to meet the challenges countries face with regards to gender equality. Sustainable Development Goal 5 calls specifically for gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls – a call that has been described as being “central to the achievement of all the 17 SDGs.”

    Addressing the Closing Ceremony of the Women in Leadership and Decision-Making Course facilitated by the Continuing Education and Lifelong Learning Unit of the University of The Bahamas and the Ministry of Social Services and Community Development on March 8, Mrs. Griffin said the course was designed, developed and implemented out of the recognition that women remain under-represented in many sectors - particularly the leadership and decision-making arenas at the political and business levels. Minister Griffin said facilitation of the Women in Leadership and Decision-Making Course is one of the primary ways in which her Ministry – through the Department of Gender and Family Affairs – plans to address the leadership gap.

    “To all of the women who have completed the course and to all in this room who aspire to leadership, I say lead on and stay strong. I say lead purposefully, faithfully, passionately and fearlessly. Persist in your efforts to achieve the vision of 50:50 by 2030. It will not be easy; it will not be simple, but it will certainly be worth it.”

    Minister Griffin said her vision for Planet 50:50 by 2030 in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas is to have more women “at the table,” working collaboratively with men to address those socio-economic challenges and gender inequality concerns “that we as a country currently face.”

    United Nations officials have proposed under the initiative to have 30 per cent of women occupying political leadership roles by 2030 in Member States. The Minister of Social Services and Community Development would like to see that figure even higher. “While the United Nations proposes 30 per cent of women occupying political leadership roles by 2030, I optimistically would like to see even more. But let me be clear, it is not just about the numbers; it is about ensuring that we have an inclusive, participatory development process that involves the active engagement of both women and men at all levels of society. “Of course, such goals cannot be accomplished without laying the requisite foundation to achieve them.” Minister Griffin challenged women attending the Closing Ceremony to continue to work together for the advancement of women in The Bahamas. “On this International Women’s Day, let us remember that there is more that binds us, than what separates us,” Mrs. Griffin added. The Closing Ceremony was planned to coincide with the global observance of International Women’s Day, held annually on March 8. “I think it is most fitting that we have merged these two events – both of which celebrate women in The Bahamas and aim to build support for their participation as leaders and decision makers in arenas across this country,” Mrs. Griffin said.

    “Recognizing that women remain under-represented in many sectors, the course focused on strengthening women’s roles as leaders and decision-makers in business, politics, civic service, policy development, education and international affairs. “Admittedly, with respect to women’s participation in the political arena in The Bahamas, we have come a long way. Since the mid-1900s – the height of the Women’s Suffrage Movement – women in this country have made significant strides. To date, The Bahamas has seen two female Governors-General (Her Excellency Dame Ivy Dumont, the country’s first female Governor-General and Her Excellency Dame Marguerite Pindling, the current Governor-General); we have also had a female Deputy Prime Minister (the Hon. Cynthia “Mother’ Pratt); and a Speaker of the House of Assembly (the Hon. Italia Johnson). “Currently, we have five women in the House of Assembly and five in the Senate. Among this latter group (Senate), we have a female President (Mrs. Sharon Wilson) and for the first time in the history of the country, a female Leader of the Official Opposition in the House of Assembly, Mrs. Loretta Butler-Turner. Just recently, Mrs. Monique Gomez was appointed as Leader of Opposition Business in the Senate.”

    Mrs. Griffin said while these “excellent accomplishments” must be commended, efforts must continue to be made “to cohesively to remove all the remaining obstacles that limit women in their pursuit of a career in politics.”“On this International Women’s Day, let us remember that there is more that binds us, than separates us. If we want to achieve Planet 50:50 by 2030, let us continue to work together for the advancement of women in our country,” Mrs. Griffin said.






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