St Kitts and Nevis (WINN): “There are many misconceptions, women still battle stereotypes and gender bias on a daily basis.”
That remark by CARICOM Youth Ambassador Joy Napier set the tone for Saturday’s Inside The News discussion on women and their issues in the federation.
“We have seen a huge increase in women stepping up to leadership roles, so we have seen women breaking into traditionally male dominated fields and slowly, I don’t think quickly enough here in our federation, we are seeing women breaking into politics, into managerial positions, into leadership positions and that is what we refer to as the glass ceiling, which is the final barrier that women need to overcome. The reality is that while in St Kitts and Nevis there might not be any laws that discriminate against women, women do hold more low paying jobs, the teachers, the nurses and they still haven’t been able to break into those fields where they can really be at the top.”
How to get more women in the male-dominated field of politics was a matter entrepreneur Kyla Browne gave some attention to.
“I think that has a lot to do with people shifting their focus and their views about women because people believe that we are not strong enough to hold those positions, more importantly they think that we are not able to make strong enough decisions or unbiased decisions especially in government right here in St Kitts. They think that you’re supposed to have unbiased, I mean you’re supposed to, so they believe that with the monthly menstrual cycle that we have, people think that that shifts your focus and makes you not be as strong or as stern as you should be, makes you feel as though you don’t have the emotions and the strength to create and make those decisions. So we just need to shift that focus and that would help people to step up to the plate and males to take us much more seriously. Males have a much more larger voice than women still, so for us to shift we have to make them believe that we are strong enough to do that, we have to push that force so they can understand what it is that we can do.”
Youth Ambassador Napier also commenting on the issue, recommended taking a critical look at the existing political climate with a view to making it more women-friendly.
“I think it’s also very important to examine our political climate. I’ve heard people say that politics is a man’s game, politics is a dirty game you have to get your hands dirty and get down to the nitty gritty and that women are sort of somehow too above this level of going down to levels that might not be so honourable and so when we think about the way that our political climate is in St Kitts and Nevis in order to encourage more women to enter I think we also need to look at transforming the political environment that we do have and young people and women are going to be a part of the transformation of that. It has been shown that women are very good at conflict resolution in many areas where there have been conflicts women have been brought in afterwards, for example in Rawanda, women were brought in afterwards to try and mediate so women do serve in a role as mediators and in conflict resolution. I think that if women are really introduced into the political sphere in a bigger way that we will see a huge change in the way that we do politics in St Kitts and Nevis.”
According to the programme’s panelists, women often face difficulties within their male-dominated party structures, often feel that they are the token female candidate, and when they are made a part of the Cabinet, are often given the “softer ministries”.