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 Remarks by Honourable Keith Mondesir on the occasion of International Women’s Day 2010 – March 8, 2010

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Remarks by The Honourable Dr. Keith Mondesir

Minister of Health, Wellness, Family Affairs,

National Mobilization, Human Services and Gender Relations

on the occasion of International Women’s Day 2010

March 8, 2010

I wish to convey my best wishes to all the women of Saint Lucia on the occasion of International Women’s Day 2010. This year also marks the 15th anniversary of the adoption of the beijing Declaration and the Platform for Action, which was the outcome of the 1975 World Conference on Women, and in recognition of this important milestone the theme selected for this year’s observance is “Equal rights, equal opportunities: Progress for all.”

The theme brings attention to the tremendous strides that women have made and continue to make in every aspect of national development. Women continue to take advantage of opportunities in education and employment, they continue to advocate for equality in legislative rights and positions of power and decision-making, for it is only with the full and equal participation of both women and men can any real progress be achieved.

We are all heartened by Governments’ actions to foster principles of gender equality and equity through the enactment of legislation such as the Equality of Opportunity and Treatment in Employment and Occupation Act. This piece of legislation provides redress in cases of gender related discrimination such as sexual harassment in the workplace. Our most recent initiative the formation of a Minimum Wage Commission promises to examine the situation of women in the workplace because too many women continue to be employed with wages that are below the adult poverty line of EC$ 423.83 monthly. The Minimum Wage Commission is expected to make recommendations to minimize the exploitation, and to ensure the dignity of workers and the reduction of extreme poverty.

The Division of Gender Relations along with a planning committee is spearheading activities to mark this year’s observance throughout the month of March. Activities will begin with an Open House at the premises of the Division on Jeremie Street. The Open House, which will include highlights of the achievements of St Lucian women, will begin on March 8th and will run for two week. During the Open House women will be invited to meet with medical and legal professionals, who will provide free advice to assist them towards achieving social progress.

As we mark this year’s observance we are saddened by the passing of Mrs Patricia ‘Pat’ Charles. We acknowledge the tremendous contribution she made as an educator and promoter of Saint Lucia’s natural and cultural heritage. In 2007 Pat Charles was awarded the Canadian Carmelle Murphy Alumnae Award of Distinction for her lifetime of teaching and volunteer work in Saint Lucia, and for epitomizing the institution’s mission “to educate women who change the world.” On behalf of the Division of Gender Relations I wish to extend our deepest sympathies to her family, friends and colleagues.

On behalf of the Government of Saint Lucia, and in particular the Ministry of Health, Wellness, Family Affairs, National Mobilization, Human Services and Gender Relations, I salute all women and wish you a happy and memorable observance.



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