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Gender: Overview

The Gender and Development Programme is currently located within the Human and Social Development (HSD) Directorate of the CARICOM Secretariat.

The Directorate utilises an inter-sectoral approach to its work, with gender, culture and youth as cross-cutting themes. The Gender and Development Sub-Programme goal is to promote new and focused inter-sectoral approaches to contribute to Human Resource Development, Poverty Reduction, Gender Equity and the protection of disadvantaged groups in the furtherance of the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The main areas of work include mainstreaming gender in Community programmes and policies especially the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME); providing technical support to Member States in policy development and mainstreaming of gender in national planning, programmes and budgets; implementing strategies and programmes to increase gender awareness and analysis among relevant target groups; improving institutional infrastructure to address gender-based vulnerabilities; convening meetings of the Directors of Women/Gender Affairs;  and inter-agency collaboration among regional and international agencies to achieve international and national obligations.



Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), 1979


The development of principles that comprise human rights law has contributed to the movement for recognition of the equal rights of women. This led to the adoption in 1979 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), to which 184 States are now party including all Member States of CARICOM. This Convention states that:

Discrimination against women shall mean distinction, exclusion, or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on the basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field.


In ratifying CEDAW, States commit themselves to undertake “…all appropriate measures, including legislation, to ensure the full development and advancement of women, for the purpose of guaranteeing them the exercise and enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms on a basis of equality with men”.


Beijing Platform for Action, 1995

Governments further signified their commitment to advance the goals of equality, development and peace for all women around the world by adopting the Beijing Platform for Action (BPfA) which was the final outcome of the Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing China in 1995. The BPfA obliges governments to address its Twelve Critical Areas of Concern as priorities.


Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), 2000

In September 2000 leaders of 189 Member States met in New York at the United Nations General Assembly and endorsed the Millennium Declaration which commited their nations to a global partnership to reduce extreme poverty and build a safer and more equitable world. The Declaration was translated into a road map setting out eight time-bound and measureable goals with a deadline of 2015, that have become known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). All the goals have relevance for attaining gender equality, however, Goal 3 speaks specifically to gender equality and the empowerment of women.


The Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, 2001


The Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, provides the operational guidelines for the functioning of the Community, the CARICOM Secretariat and the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME). In this regard, Article 17.2d that outlines the functions and powers of the Council of Human and Social Development (COHSOD) is particularly instructive.

Subject to the provisions of Article 12, COHSOD shall be responsible for the promotion of human and social development in the Community. In particular, COHSOD shall: 

(d)        establish policies and programmes to promote the development of youth and women in the Community with a view to encouraging and enhancing their participation in social, cultural, political and economic activities (Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas).

The CARICOM Secretariat plays a fundamental leadership role in the economic growth and sustainable development of the region and has set the eradication of poverty as a central objective.  A people-centred approach has been articulated by the Secretariat to “promote the welfare and well-being of people; contribute to social inclusion, gender equality and the empowerment of women”.


The Gender and Development Programme of the Human and Social Development Directorate has played a critical role in advancing gender mainstreaming efforts and collaborating with relevant organizations and agencies to identify and promote strategies for the fullest participation of women and men in the development process.


CARICOM Charter of Civil Society

The CARICOM Charter of Civil Society lays out principles by which Governments commit themselves to respect and strengthen fundamental elements of a civil society.

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