Minister of Social Services and Urban Development, the Hon. Frankie A. Campbell on Wednesday delivered The Bahamas’ National Statement during the general discussion of the Sixty-Third Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW63). The Bahamas also took the opportunity to extend “heartfelt” condolences to the United Nations and the families and countries of the 157 persons killed in Sunday’s crash of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 that crashed shortly after take-off from the airport in Addis Ababa. Minister Campbell assured the Commission of The Bahamas’ full cooperation and support and also took the opportunity to align itself with the statements delivered on behalf of CARICOM and G77 and China.
Addressing the Assembly on the priority theme of the Sixty-Third Commission on the Status of Woman (CSW63): Social Protection Systems, Access to Public Services and Sustainable Infrastructure for Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women and Girls,” said the priority theme is “keenly relevant” to the work of his ministry as ministry officials seek to achieve gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls and combat institutional and normative hurdles that threaten these efforts. “The Bahamas is a Small Island Developing Archipelagic State, whose Government is charged with the delivery of services across several islands and cays, which span over 100,000 square miles of sea. As Minister with responsibility for gender affairs, this year’s priority theme is keenly relevant to the work of my Ministry, as we seek to achieve gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls and combat institutional and normative hurdles that threaten these efforts.”
Minister Campbell told the Commission that in order to accomplish this substantial task, it is important to first understand the barriers to its realization.“Like many SIDS (Small-Island Developing States), The Bahamas is vulnerable to a host of external shocks, including economic and environmental shocks that can weaken the country’s capacity to provide adequate social services, obstruct physical and remote access to public services and hinder the development of effective sustainable infrastructure. “Added to this are internal challenges that increase the burden of social protection and public services, which include gender-based violence, multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination, and increasing national debt due, in part, to adverse impacts of natural disasters and climate change on our national economy.”
Minister Campbell gave delegates a review of an array of social services the Government provides to the Bahamian people through the Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development, including food stipends and housing assistance programmes for rent and post-disaster small home repairs. “The Ministry also offers after-school assistance to young mothers, disability-specific aid and support groups, including sign language and Braille classes, and transportation services. Specific programmes are available for older persons in areas such as home care, utilities, travel, and housing assistance and national health care services. “In addition to these, the Government has developed capacity-building programmes and small business grants in urban communities where women and girls are the primary beneficiaries. The Bahamas has also strengthened its national women’s machinery through increasing the staff of the Department of Gender and Family Affairs by one hundred and fifty