Government paying lip service, says NOW

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One day before the start of 16 days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence, president of the National Organisation of Women (NOW) Marsha Hinds is not satisfied enough is being done to address the needs of women.

The international campaign will run from November 25 to December 10 under the theme ‘Orange the World: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect!’

Activists are expected to raise awareness about gender-based violence, challenge discriminatory attitudes and call for improved laws and services to end violence against women. This year’s

the campaign will focus on informal women workers whose lives and livelihoods have been acutely impacted by COVID-19 and the unprecedented economic crisis that has followed.

Speaking to Barbados TODAY, Hinds said despite the several initiatives to highlight gender violence, more action was needed.

In fact, she said she would not be expending much energy on this year’s initiative following what she described as “dismissiveness” by Government in 2019.

“We pretty much celebrate a day for everything now and our reflection is that in all of these days we are losing the action of advocacy and we are losing the desire to do something beyond the days.

“I am bitterly disappointed in the way that the 16 days of Activism was treated by the Government last year and I’ve not recovered and my personal protest this year has been that it is not a space that I will expend energy on. The Government of Barbados made us as civil society plan events last year and then unilaterally decided that they were not going to give us the support with the activities,” Hinds said.

“All we were asking them for was advertising because they have GIS [Government Information Service] and in some cases space. Those were the two things Government could give us without expending much resource and I think it was a signal of dismissiveness…”

Hinds said the COVID-19 pandemic had since “taken off all of the masks” of the social issues in Barbados to reveal broken social services.

Furthermore, Hinds said there was no overarching plan for how the country would treat to those most vulnerable and most affected by COVID-19.

“I am sorry but I don’t have any passing grade to give to the Government and to its response in relation to one of the most affected groups and this is women and by virtue children,” Hinds said.

“I feel like right now we are getting lip service from the Government with respect to the needs of women.”

However, the feminist acknowledged that some progress was being made.

She stressed that in 2020 there was still much left to be done.

“I’m not saying that Government is not doing anything at all, but it really is a case where the grass is growing and the horse is starving. It is not to negate the fact that Government is making strides to try and include gender in the discussions and the discourse but it is not happening fast enough. It is not happening at a level where the women who come to NOW looking for support can benefit and so I have to remain uncomfortable because my constituency is uncomfortable,” Hinds said.

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