Women crawl towards equality legislation

| 18/12/2009

(CNS): The development of legislation to prevent gender discrimination in the Cayman Islands may be moving painfully slowly, but it does appear to be moving. Officials from the Cayman Islands Government have said that it will release the draft Prevention of Gender Discrimination Bill (2010) for public consultation on Friday 18 December. The release will coincide with the 30th anniversary of the adoption by the UN of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the international human rights treaty which is exclusively devoted to gender equality and which has still not been extended to Cayman.

Often described as an international bill of rights for women, it defines discrimination against them and establishes an agenda for national action to end such discrimination. Deputy Premier and Gender Affairs Minister, Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, stated that the passage of local legislation would allow the extension of CEDAW to the Cayman Islands through the United Kingdom.  

“Women’s rights have progressed considerably during the past three decades, but there are still major obstacles that prevent gender equality from being achieved,” O’Connor- Connolly said. “Given the far-reaching effects that this important piece of legislation will have on employees, employers and other bodies, I encourage the public to review the draft bill and provide their comments to the ministry.”

Senior Policy Advisor for Gender Affairs Tammy Ebanks-Bishop said the acceptance of the bill would ensure the extension of CEDAW locally and be a gain for women’s and girls’ rights on a practical, everyday level. She noted that, despite recent local advances, much remains to be done before reaching the point where principles of gender equality become national standards.

“Positive steps to date are the new Constitution Order with its Bill of Rights and the use of gender-inclusive language; the creation of the draft Protection Against Domestic Violence Bill (2009) and the Prevention of Gender Discrimination Bill (2010),” said Ebanks Bishop. “However, serious human rights violations against women still occur daily, such as domestic violence, sexual harassment and workplace discrimination due to maternity status or unequal pay for the same work as males.”

She further pointed out that social progress in gender equality is not automatic. “It requires considerable work, awareness and commitment in order to make the necessary societal changes that lead to increased gender equity. This CEDAW anniversary provides an international platform for increasing awareness,” she added.

Explaining that since 186 countries have ratified CEDAW, Ebanks Bishop said the anniversary presents an opportunity for the global community to celebrate its near-universal ratification and that many countries have scheduled a variety of events to acknowledge this essential tool for achieving women’s human rights.  “In Argentina, a workshop is being held on CEDAW’s application to the Latin America and Caribbean region. Cameroon is organizing a vast media campaign to sensitize and inform the public on CEDAW. In Japan, the Minister for Gender Equality will host a gathering of female governors and mayors in order to publicize the importance of female participation in national decision-making,” the Senior Policy Advisor said.

For more information or to provide feedback on the draft Prevention of Gender Discrimination Bill, please visit www.gov.ky. The public has until 31 January 2010 to submit their comments.

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Comments (3)

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  1. Anonymous2 says:

    It’s a shame that more people haven’t commented on this.  Just goes to show how much women really are valued here.

    Creepy crawly…you are creepy alright.

  2. Anonymous says:

    These discrimination laws are sexest 

  3. ATM is more an art than a craft says:

    Our constitution should have covered gender discrimination comprehensively and in plain English. But it doesn’t because looney preachers and a demagogue radio talkshow host represented us in London.