Basseterre, St. Kitts, March 08, 2016 (SKNIS): Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, pledges for women to be respected in all spheres of life, as he reflected on the slogan “Step It Up for Gender Equality”, to observe International Women’s Day 2016, on Tuesday, March 08.
“The slogan of the UN Women’s Planet 50-50 by 2030 campaign, is a clarion call to all of us to unite for women’s rights,” said the prime minister. “Civil society and women’s groups, such as the Business & Professional Women’s Club of St. Kitts (BPW St. Kitts), are heeding the call by implementing mentorship programmes to build girls’ self-esteem, help them achieve their ambitions and improve their life outcomes, making them less susceptible to being taken advantage of by pedophiles.”
Dr. Harris briefly reflected on the increased reports of statutory rape cases involving the unlawful carnal knowledge of girls under the age of 16 years old, which is the legal age of sexual consent.
“So as we make a Pledge for Parity on this International Women’s Day, it is important to affirm that rape is rape, said Dr. Harris. “My Administration will work to ensure that the most vulnerable people in our society, including children, are protected from exploitation and abuse. This is a very meaningful pledge to make on International Women’s Day, as children are an extension of women. Children embody their mothers’ and fathers’ hopes, aspirations and potential. Our children’s triumphs are the community’s triumphs, and their tribulations are our own.”
As equally important, Prime Minister Harris stated that when thinking of positive achievements for “our daughters, we should not ignore our sons or leave them out of our plans for individual development.” Additionally, he added that respect for God, family and nation must be instilled in the children to ensure that as brought out in the National Anthem, “His blessings shall forever to posterity extend.”
“On this front, the Department of Gender Affairs has increased its staff over the past year and it now employs two males, one of whom is responsible for launching a new initiative that will focus on boys,” said the prime minister, while noting that the imitative dubbed the Boys Mentorship Programme is receiving buoyant interest from civil society. He noted that meetings are currently being held to discuss avenues for partnership.
Dr. Harris explained that the additional staff at the Department of Gender Affairs expanded its capacity to meet the reporting requirements of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), a convention which was ratified by the twin-island state on April 25, 1985.
He noted that St. Kitts and Nevis committed to submit national reports at least every four years, and stated that the reports are expected to outline measures taken by the Federation to comply with the treaty obligations. Dr. Harris said that his Government “pledges a renewed commitment to adhering to the reporting guidelines of CEDAW.”