Minister planning gender affairs council to help tackle domestic violence
A gender affairs council could be set up to help tackle domestic violence as well as inequities, the Minister of Social Development and Seniors said.
Tinée Furbert added that it is hoped the island can take part in a UN programme to collect data on gender equality.
She highlighted that a Women’s Council was set up by Neletha Butterfield, then a Progressive Labour Party culture minister, in 2010.
Ms Furbert said: “That was in train for a number of years and they were looking at those issues but when governments change and people change and ministries change, some of those initiatives unfortunately fall to the wayside.
“We are looking to bring that back to life by way of a gender affairs council.
“When we’re speaking to other small state jurisdictions they may have a gender affairs office but it may be one person who is doing all of the work.
“So we’re going to approach this by way of a gender affairs council first, and then it will take up the mantra of, yes, continue with domestic violence and looking out for that, looking out for gender equity and equality as well.”
Victoria Cunningham, the One Bermuda Alliance approved candidate for Devonshire North Central, called for the creation of a gender affairs office last year.
She said then: “Bermuda is the only UK Overseas Territory that does not have a gender affairs office focusing on women’s rights and domestic abuse.
“While we have signed on to the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the gender affairs office is a key component of ensuring the provisions of the convention are put into practice.”
Ms Cunningham added that a specialist office would also be able to track data and promote gender equality.
Ms Furbert said last week a request was made to work with UN Women, the United Nations branch that is dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women.
She explained: “We have put in an application to be a part of a joint initiative through the sustainable development goals to build back better and also it includes addressing gender equality.
“What this would look like is UN Women will actually hire someone on our behalf as a coordinator to conduct studies – where we are as far as gender equality and also possibly looking at statistics and research around domestic violence.
“I’m praying that we are successful with this.”
The minister added the island’s GDP often meant that Bermuda did not get the chance to take part in similar initiatives.
She added: “We must recognise, even though our GDP is high, that is not the only indicator for a country, to say that we don’t have needs.”