Gender Relations Minister, Alvina Reynolds, has said that violence or the threat of it is a significant barrier to women entering or continuing to take part in politics.
Reynolds was addressing today’s opening ceremony of an inter-parliamentary meeting on gender based political harassment.
The Minister, who also has responsibility for Health, Wellness and Human Services, said although gender based violence has only been recently acknowledged, it has always existed.
“It has become more apparent with the increased political participation of women,” Reynolds told the conference which is being held at the Bay Gardens resort.
She lamented that the pervasiveness of violence against women and the tolerance and tacit approval of it, has allowed gender based violence, including political harassment, to continue unabated.
Reynolds told representatives from ten countries at the conference that parliaments should mirror societies.
“As women continue to progress in other areas of social development, so too should the numbers as elected parliamentarians increase,” she asserted.
The Minister noted that over the years there have been improvements in the number of females at the highest level of political decision making globally.
She recalled that in 2011 for the first time in Saint Lucia’s history as a parliamentary democracy, three women were elected to the 17 seat parliament.
Reynolds also mentioned the recent election of Taiwan’s first ever female President.
She observed that promoting the empowerment of women through political participation is critical to achieving a more equitable distribution of power and resources in every society.
“Women want to influence decisions that affect our lives, the lives of our families, the political economy, the destiny of our countries and the structures of regional and international relations,” she declared.