Minister seeks approval for gender convention

| 10/12/2013

(CNS): The minister with responsibility for gender affairs has made an official request to have the UK extend its part in the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) to the Cayman Islands. Tara Rivers submitted the request to Governor Helen Kilpatrick Monday, ahead of today’s international human rights celebrations. The UK will then assess the current equality regime in Cayman and, if it feels the government can meet the obligations, the treaty will be extended. The convention will offer support to efforts being made and provide a catalyst to examine any lingering areas of discrimination.

Officials said it would help them develop strategies for solutions to address inequality between women and men and boys and girls.

The intentions of the Cayman Islands Government to sign onto CEDAW date as far back as 2004, and commitments have also been made at various Overseas Territories Consultative Council meetings.

The last legislative step in the process of meeting the UK’s requirements for CEDAW extension was the passage of the Gender Equality Law, 2011, which came into effect almost two years ago. This law prohibits discrimination in employment and related matters and also serves as local “enabling legislation” that upholds the principles of CEDAW.

“As the minister responsible for gender affairs, and as a woman, I have a keen interest to represent and advocate for the advancement of women and gender equality in the Cayman Islands,” said Rivers.

“CEDAW is the only core international human rights treaty that the Cayman Islands has yet to sign onto. This most recent request to have CEDAW extended is a reflection of the Government’s commitment to ensuring equality between women and men and promoting a culture of human rights in the Cayman Islands.  Efforts such as these which strive toward gender equality help us create a more positive and equitable future for our sons and daughters and a healthier and more productive society.”

The cornerstone of CEDAW is the principle of equality between men and women and the prohibition of discrimination, which affects women’s enjoyment of political, economic, social, cultural, civil and other rights on an equal basis with men. By accepting CEDAW, countries commit themselves to ending discrimination against women in all forms so that they – along with men – can enjoy all of their human rights and fundamental freedoms.

“As the first female governor of the Cayman Islands, I am pleased to witness this significant milestone in our human rights history,” said Governor Kilpatrick, noting the progress over the years towards gender equality in Cayman and the now strong legal framework for non-discrimination. “I hope to do what I can to champion the rights of women and to support the efforts to have the CEDAW extended so that all Caymanians and residents have the opportunity to shape our future.”

Countries that have ratified CEDAW are legally obligated to work towards implementing its provisions and are also committed to monitoring and reporting on the measures they have taken to comply with their treaty obligations.

Senior Policy Officer (Gender Affairs) Tammy Ebanks stated that despite the current high levels of compliance with many of these obligations, the benefits of having CEDAW extended to the Cayman Islands include providing the Gender Affairs Unit with easier access to technical and other resources and expertise in the area of gender affairs and also opportunities to build relationships and share best practices and policy recommendations with other countries.

Often described as an international Bill of Rights for women, CEDAW was adopted in 1979 by the UN General Assembly and has been ratified by almost every single member of the United Nations.  The only British Overseas Territories in the Caribbean to have CEDAW extended so far are the British Virgin Islands and the Turks and Caicos Islands. Extension occurred in 1986 in both Territories, when the UK ratified CEDAW. 

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Is there a Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Men?

    • Anonymous says:

      I thought sexual discrimation, racial discrimation, orientation discrimation were all compulsory here??? Damn, got to find me a place where it still is..maybe Russia???

  2. Anonymous says:

    If Tara was living in Saudi Arabia I could understand the rush to bring in this legislation, however I feel that in the Cayman Islands she may be jumping the gun.
      Is there real need and justification for such a rush?
      Is there good reason for her to dash ahead with this, without the public having a chance to study and understand the whys and wherefores, the advantages and disadvantages, and whether it would eliminate or cause problems for the people?
    If the Cayman Islands care to  maintain  democratic status, such regulations should be subject to scrutiny and comments  by the general public  followed by decision of the full Legislative Assemly.
    It sometmes happens that  a person coming in to a poition of authority and power, gets
    over-anxious to display their authority without weighing all the implications and the wisom of it
    I cannot help feling that some of the newcomers in the present Government are rushing matters at a rather dangerous pace. 
    There is an old saying, "that things done in haste are often regretted in leisure"
    I therefore beg our people in authorty to take time,  do things in moderation,  and maintain the support of  the people that put them in a  positoin where they can exercise authority.  

    A Caymanian who thinks that this Governnent should be rushing more to improvie
    the economy, than to pile on laws and restrictions.  

    • Anonymous says:

      The intention of the Government to work towards enacting CEDAW was made clear many years ago. If you had been paying attention, you would realize there is no "rush," just the culmination of a long process to coincide with significant dates. I agree with you that rushing legislation can lead to negative, unintended consequences, but this situation is not that.

  3. Anonymous says:

    While we are at it kets get rid of the ridiculous 'insulting the modesty of a woman law'.  This itself is discrimination against men who have no such law.  Its got to work both ways!

  4. Anonymous says:

    We need jobs and better education teachers not more conventions when we do not enforce laws on the books now. Wake up

  5. Anonymous says:

    Sorry, I gave this a "thumbs down" when I wish I could give it 100 "thumbs up".  Now if there was a UN Convention on Promoting Taras then we would know all about it.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Great Tara. Well done. Perhaps now, we can have a female governor, female police, female judges, etc, etc? What! We have that already? Back to sleep. Good heavens, what a waste of time.

    I have never seen such an irrelevant politician in all of my 40+ years here. Give her credit. She never misses a photo op and gets to sit next to the big shots. 

    • Anonymous says:

      Does the Honourable Minister also support CEDAW's position on decriminalisation of prostitution, abortion, and sexual orientation and identity?   A brave position for a cayman politician, if intentional.   

      • Anonymous says:

        Sweden is a good example of this and where we can be.  Yes, prostitution was decriminalised but then the Johns are arrested.  The prositutes are helped to get a different life.  A win-win situation for all.  As for sexual orientation and identity, there are many homosexuals here whether people want to admit it or not.  And abortion, well, maybe we would have less baby mammas and baby daddas and gangstas.  Google Sweden and gender equality.

        • Anonymous says:

          Homosexual orientation and identity is not a crime. Never has been.

          • Anonymous says:

            Identity isn't a crime but I'm pretty sure there was a law on the books about homosexuality.  I'm not sure if it is still there.

        • Anonymous says:

          Unless you're suggesting men should have have abortions too, it is not a gender equality issue.  Its an issue in its own right.  Lumping everything unto the gender equality bandwagon is ignorant.

      • Anonymous says:

        "…decriminalisation of sexual orientation and identity"

        Huh? Sexual orientation is not now and has never been a crime. But decriminalisation of identity – LOL. That's a new one for me!  

        • Anonymous says:

          That probably is because you are ignorant of the issues.

          • Diogenes says:

            Or the use of the comma – decriminalisation only applies to the first item.

            Albeit in Cayman it probably does apply to the second, and sexual orientation other than heterosexual is viewed as as a crime as some nice American boys discovered at Royal Palms.  

      • Anonymous says:

        Perhaps you should ask her?

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes and the election of Barak Obama also means that there is no longer any racism in America….

  7. Anonymous says:

    There's a Senior Poilicy Officer for Gender Affairs?  Sounds like a tough job!