The Directorate of Gender Affairs in collaboration with UN Women, Multi-Country Office – Caribbean has completed a consultative workshop on the preparation of the nation’s 2018 Beijing+25 Report, and the development of a National Gender Equality Action Plan (NGEAP).

The workshop, which was held at the Starfish Halcyon Resort from February 6-7, involved representatives from a wide range of public sector agencies, civil society, and faith-based organisations.

In 1995 Antigua & Barbuda signed on to the Beijing Platform for Action signifying a national commitment to advancing women’s empowerment, and to making gender equality a lived reality in Antigua & Barbuda.

Under this signatory commitment, every four years Antigua & Barbuda is required to submit a progress report on the country’s achievements and challenges towards achieving gender equality. The consultative workshop aimed to collect data and information from the represented agencies in order to compile the 2018 report.

Deputy Representative of the UN Women Caribbean Multi-Country Office, Tonni-Ann Brodber, noted that Antigua & Barbuda is the first country in the region to host these consultative workshops.

“Hosting these consultative workshops, which are a mandatory part of the Beijing +25 review andreporting process, speaks to Antigua & Barbuda’s commitment to honouring its international obligations and advancing gender equality on a national level,” she said.

The workshop also allowed Antigua & Barbuda an opportunity review the Draft CARICOM Gender Equality Strategy.

Deputy Representative of the UN Women Caribbean Multi-Country Office, Tonni-Ann Brodber delivers her presentation on the Beijing Platform for Action during Day 1 of the Beijing+25 and National Gender Equality Action Plan consultative workshops held at the Starfish Halcyon Resort on February 6, 2019.

Deputy Programme Manager for Gender & Development at the CARICOM Secretariat, Anne-Marie Williams, said these consultations provide Antigua & Barbuda and other CARICOM permanent member states an opportunity to accelerate the effective implementation of priorities using a regional coordinated approach in gender equality, equity, and women’s empowerment.

She further noted the strategy aligning closely with regional and international frameworks that the region has signed on to in particular the Sustainable Development Goals, most specifically the goal on gender equality.

“Goal 5, to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls, is seen as the driver of all the other 16 goals, and the regional strategy reflects all 17 goals under its 6 main priority areas; access to relevant education, access to health services, freedom from violence, economic empowerment, good governance, equality and social inclusion.”

The information gathered from both the Beijing Consultations and the review of the CARICOM Gender Equality Strategy and Action Plan will be used to inform the development of Antigua & Barbuda’s National Gender Equality Action Plan.

Moving forward the Directorate of Gender Affairs will establish gender focal points within the government agencies highlighted in the 12 critical areas of concern for the Beijing Platform for Action to continue gathering information from the agencies as it relates to gender and to ensure that gender concerns are incorporated into all plans, programmes and policies.

Acting Executive Director of the Directorate of Gender Affairs, Farmala Jacobs, said that this process will ensure that the NGEAP takes the needs of everyone within our society into consideration, especially our most vulnerable.

“The Directorate understands that gender is a cross-cutting issue that has implications for our political, social, intellectual and financial well-being both at an individual, interpersonal and national level; so we must ensure that we consult as many people from as many groups as possible when we devise policies like the National Gender Equality Action Plan.”

Another consultative workshop will be held with stakeholders once a draft of the NGEAP has been completed.