News Release

Strong Alliances, Collaboration on Best Practices Can Build Gender Inclusive Leadership in the Caribbean

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Two women sitting in a room one is holding a microphone speaking

Caribbean institutions can build cultures that support gender equality and inclusive representation in decision-making by forming strong networks of women and men, using internal working groups on diversity to push for policy changes, and sharing successful strategies to determine best practices to advance women’s leadership. Institutions can also better respond to women’s needs by having onsite childcare facilities and parental leave policies that help parents better manage child-rearing.

Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), Vice-President of Operations (Acting) Mrs. Therese Turner-Jones, posited the suggestions at a gathering of civil society and private sector leaders during a regional consultation on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the equal and inclusive representation of women in decision-making systems, at the Accra Beach Hotel in Barbados on Tuesday, April 23, 2024.

Women remain significantly outnumbered in leadership positions globally. Worldwide, only 25 countries are headed by women and females constitute only 22.8% of cabinet ministers. UN Women data show that just two Caribbean countries surpass 30% representation of women in parliament. According to 2021 data, women in the economic sector represented 31% of senior management roles, but only 23% of executive positions.

Participants engaged in discussions around best practices and elaborated on strategies and approaches for the institutionalisation and operationalisation of CEDAW provisions, including equal and inclusive representation in the Caribbean. Discussions also focused on women’s leadership and career advancement in the public and private sectors, particularly how technological developments, digital transition, the growing role of artificial intelligence, algorithms, and the metaverse, can be harnessed in education and professions to accelerate women’s equal participation.

Noting that CDB assumed Chair of the Multilateral Development Bank Working Group on Gender for a two-year term in January, Mrs. Therese Turner-Jones said the Bank’s mission to enhance gender equality in the region means supporting the normative framework on gender equality is important and pivotal.

“We know that the ongoing development of individuals to effectively lead in the global economy is a competitive advantage that contributes to organisational success, but beyond that, the multitude of contemporary challenges such as renewed global instability and conflict, climate change, and pandemics, require gender-responsive and inclusive forms of governance,” Mrs. Turner-Jones emphasised.

Mrs. Nana Oye Hesse-Bayne, President, Caribbean Women in Leadership (CiWiL) Regional Board pointed out that obstacles such as social norms, lack of political will, and structural barriers including caregiving responsibilities for family members have helped create societies where women are significantly underrepresented in leadership positions both in public and private sectors “Increased female representation in decision-making is crucial for effective governance, economic success, and tackling contemporary challenges. We hope that these consultations would have helped to outline concrete strategies that can be used to pave the way for sustainable women’s equal and inclusive representation in the Caribbean,” Mrs. Hesse-Bayne said.

Ms. Monique Long, Planning and Coordination Specialist from the UN Women, Multi-Country Office Caribbean, noted “As the UN entity dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women, we are committed to supporting discussions that highlight the importance of women’s representation in decision-making. The sessions held over these two days have allowed Caribbean women to share their realities, and their expertise, and will ensure that their voices continue to be integrated into global discourse around issues that affect women everywhere.”