Gender law under review

A long-awaited draft of a gender discrimination law will be considered by the Legislative Assembly before the end of this year, according to Minister Juliana O’Connor-Connolly.

In a press release detailing the progress of a gender training programme and policies, Ms O’Connor-Connolly, the minister responsible for gender affairs, said she intends to bring a draft Prevention of Gender Discrimination Bill (2009) before the Legislative Assembly by the end of the year.

‘This… will enable the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women to be extended to the Cayman Islands,’ Ms O’Connor-Connolly said.

The United Nations adopted the convention, described as a bill of rights for women, in December 1979, and a decade later more than 100 nations had agreed to be bound by its provisions. The United Kingdom ratified the convention in 1986.

Before the convention can be extended to the Cayman Islands, the government must introduce the necessary legislation to make it enforceable locally.

The government would identify ‘three to four priority areas’ in which specific gender training would be introduced, according to the statement.

‘We will organise public education efforts and provide generalised gender awareness training and analysis of the policies, operations and programmes within our Ministry,’ Ms O’Connor-Connolly said.

‘We expect that continued development of gender affairs for the Cayman Islands will lead to the establishment of a model Office of Gender Affairs, once the financial and human resources become available.’

Senior Policy Advisor for Gender Affairs Tammy Ebanks-Bishop attended an exchange in Trinidad and Tobago last month to view how that country is pursuing its gender affairs programme.

Ms Ebanks-Bishop was appointed in September 2008 to provide analysis that would enhance gender mainstreaming efforts in policies and programmes.

In addition, she was to review regional models and advise government on establishing a local Gender Affairs Office.

‘This exchange gave me an opportunity to learn from a Caribbean country that the World Economic Forum rates among the top 20 countries world-wide for narrowing the gender gap.

‘The visit was most beneficial as I was able to interact with staff at all levels and learn from their experiences in gender mainstreaming at the programming and policy level,’ Ms Ebanks-Bishop said.

She added that the exchange gave her a chance to see how the host country was meeting its obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women.