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International Women’s Day is set aside to acknowledge the struggles of women throughout the world for gender parity and the achievements that have been made. There has been progress over the years but this day is a recognition that gender equality is not yet realised. Saint Lucians should be proud that their Constitution prohibits discrimination on the grounds of sex as not every country has such non-discriminatory clauses enshrined in their Constitutions.
Women of Saint Lucia continue to make significant in-roads and contributions in sports, education, politics, culture, the public service and other arenas. This day however, requires us to reflect on how far we have come and how much farther we have to go. It is important that we make note of a United Nations’ article entitled International Women’s Day – Step it up for gender equality which informs us of gender equality in the Caribbean generally. Below is one paragraph from the article.
In the Caribbean, women’s participation in the labour market is comparatively high when compared to the global averages, but is predominantly in the public sector. Conversely, men continue to dominate the highest levels of the labour market and tend to earn more than women irrespective of levels of educational attainment. Violence against women and girls continues at an alarming rate, and women-headed households while seen as more resilient, are conversely more likely to be economically vulnerable with limited access to social protection, which includes assistance such as cash and non-cash support in times of financial hardship.
At Sir Arthur Lewis Community College women hold prominent positions at the Board, senior management and middle management levels.
As regards the student body, the gender distribution in the various academic Divisions is instructive. There still appears to be careers that are considered gender based.
|Arts Sciences and General Studies||70%||30%|
|Health Sciences (Nursing)||91%||9%|
|Teacher Education and Educational Administration||86%||14%|
|Technical Education and Management Studies||50%||50%|
Overall, 61% of students enrolled at the College are female. The only academic Division where males are in the majority is Agriculture. Education and Nursing have the highest percentages of female enrolment, 86% and 91% respectively.
As Sir Arthur Lewis Community College continues its journey to become a university college (full-degree granting institution), we will be broadening access to tertiary education for all Saint Lucians. We will continue to welcome all students irrespective of gender.
The United Nations Charter, 1945, supported the principle of gender equality. In 2016 and beyond, let us all continue to support the principle of gender equality.