Minister of Gender Affairs, Dr. Adis King, has said that 2020 marks an important year for women’s empowerment and gender equality.
King made that statement during an address to the nation on International Women’s Day on Sunday, March 8.
She said Dominica has made significant progress towards the achievement of gender equity over the years.
“The Sexual Offenses Act was amended in 1998 with sensitivity to sexual abuse of the girl child. In 2016, the Sexual Offenses Act was amended again and now criminalizes marital rape,” she explained.
According to the minister, this ensures harsher sentences for perpetrators of sexual violence and enforces mandatory reporting of suspected abuse of minors.
She said women in Dominica have played a major role in society and have even dominated in certain areas.
“Seventy-five percent (75%) of our permanent secretaries of government ministries are women, pointing to women’s pre-dominance at the highest level of decision making in the public service,” King contended.
She noted that 41% of women are also local councillors which she said is higher than the critical mass.
“At the level of local government in Dominica, there is evidence that there is an increase in the number of women local councillors and chairpersons of local councils,” she said.
Entrepreneurship, agriculture and fisheries among others, areas in which, according to King, that women continue to make significant contributions.
The minister pointed out that despite these successes, women continue to encounter negatives on a day to day basis including stereotyping.
She said they continue to do twice as much unpaid household and care work compared to men which, according to her, leaves women with little or no pensions at retirement.
“Gender-based violence continues to be an ongoing issue, however, the government of Dominica, via the Bureau of Gender Affairs, continues to tackle the issue,” the minister stated.
Pointing out that thirty-seven (37% ) of the country’s households are headed by single women who are still continuously challenged with child care and maintenance issues, King on all Dominican women to support each other as this year is important to reflect on opportunities, challenges and meaningful action.
The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day was “I am generation equality: realizing women’s rights.”