by Sophia Phillip
In a significant move towards securing the rights of women and addressing gender-based violence (GBV) in Grenada, the Grenada Women’s Parliamentary Caucus (GWPC), in support of the Grenada Spotlight Initiative to End Violence Against Women and Girls, recently organised a pivotal forum at the Radisson Grenada Beach Resort.
Focused on parliamentary procedures and GBV, the event, held 12–13 October, garnered participation from both past and present parliamentarians dedicated to fostering a more secure and equitable society.
Alarming insights from the 2021 Labour Force Survey underscored a persistent gender gap in economic participation, revealing lower employment rates for women in comparison to their male counterparts. Particularly striking was the unemployment rate among young women, which stood at 42%, higher than the 36% rate among young men. Even among heads of households, the data highlighted a glaring disparity, with women facing a 19% unemployment rate, almost double the 10% unemployment rate among men. These disparities painted a stark picture of inequality that demanded immediate attention.
Underlining the urgency of the matter, Hon. Dr Clarice Modeste-Curwen, the Chairperson of GWPC, emphasised the pivotal role of lawmakers in addressing the challenges faced by women in Grenada, highlighting the need for a legislative environment that is attuned to women’s concerns.
This sentiment was echoed by Candice Wallace, a representative from UNICEF, who called upon parliamentarians to utilise their influence to drive meaningful change for vulnerable members of society.
The troubling reality extended beyond economic disparities. Facilitator for the second day Jacqueline Sealy-Burke highlighted the alarming prevalence of sex offences in Grenada, underscoring the disconcerting fact that such offenses accounted for more than 50% of all crimes before the High Court in the country. Her poignant query — “What is really going on?”— resonated deeply, shedding light on the urgent need for comprehensive action to address the root causes of such crimes.
Senator the Hon. Claudette Joseph, Attorney General, explained that a proactive approach is being taken to introduce 13 bills in Parliament, aiming to encompass critical aspects such as family affairs, domestic violence, and sexual offences in the Criminal Code. The overarching focus remains steadfastly on safeguarding the rights of victims, especially children, and holding offenders accountable. Notably, proposals to define the notion of “consent” within the criminal code and to modify the criminal procedures for dealing with vulnerable witnesses are being considered, with the primary objective of establishing a robust framework for assessing and addressing cases of sexual offences.
The culmination of the parliamentary forum was marked by the adoption of a resolution signalling a collective commitment to combat GBV and foster a safer environment. With a pledge to eliminate all forms of family violence and establish support mechanisms for victims, hold offenders accountable, and prevent recidivism, the forum laid the groundwork for achieving and sustaining a comprehensive, collaborative approach to address the complex challenges posed by GBV in Grenada.
The collaborative efforts of the GWPC and the Office of the Houses of Parliament, with the support of UNICEF and the European Union, underscore a shared commitment to building a more inclusive and secure Grenada. As the nation approaches its 50th independence anniversary, the commitment to combating GBV reflects a strong determination to build a future where every individual, regardless of gender, can thrive in a secure and supportive environment.