CDB Statement on International Women' Day 2017

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STATEMENT by Dr. William Warren Smith President, Caribbean Development Bank on International Women' Day 2017 Today, the Caribbean Development Bank joins the rest of the world in recognising the role of women and girls as catalysts for change in our region. As the primary contributors to the care economy, they build the resilience of our youth and our families. They are making big strides in education, particularly at the tertiary level. They are entrepreneurs, and play a vital role in Caribbean communities and at the civil society level. They are also champions of good governance and the preservation of our cultural heritage. Yet, the reality of women and girls in our Region is still different from that of men. We accept that gender equality is a driver of inclusive growth. Despite gains made in higher education, the position of women in our societies continues to be hindered by persistently low participation rates in the labour force. Gender wage gaps still exist; women are over-represented in the informal sector; and they continue to be victims of gender-based violence. The free movement of labour is restricted; further constraining women' ability to realise the personal and financial benefits of engaging in high quality, well-paid jobs. Gender inequality inhibits competitiveness and innovation. Then, if we accept gender inequality, we are tacitly agreeing to live in a region where our economies cannot perform at their best. CDB' Country Gender Assessments suggest that public policy has had limited impact on improving conditions of access to and stability for women in paid work in high growth sectors. This is coupled with an undervaluation of women' contribution to care work, which is becoming even more important as demographic trends point to an ageing population. Our studies also show that the productivity of women can be boosted when countries invest in services such as the provision of care for children and the elderly, and in appropriate technologies for home-based production. Recognising the strong nexus between infrastructure and economic growth, CDB has channeled considerable financial resources into infrastructure investments in all of our borrowing member countries. In designing these projects, we hold in high regard their contribution to reducing the time women spend on household chores; and to narrowing gender gaps and inequalities. In our work in the education and training sector, we pay special attention to improving productivity and the income earning potential of women through better skills alignment with the labour market. In addition, we support projects to enhance women' economic empowerment; to eliminate gender stereotyping; and to combat gender-based violence. Women and girls are catalysts for profound change and transformation of our region. On this day, we acknowledge the contributions they have made in their communities, their homes and their work places. As we embrace the theme for this year' International Women' Day - Be Bold for Change - we call on all citizens of the Region to act courageously and decisively in promoting prosperous, just and inclusive societies.

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