Charlestown, Nevis, March 21, 2022 (NIA) — Hon. Hazel Brandy-Williams, Junior Minister in the Ministry of Health and Gender Affairs, says although the Department of Gender Affairs always focuses on equality for both men and women, the COVID-19 pandemic brought to the fore that present-day inequalities have far-reaching effects on the stability and sustainability of a society’s future.
The sentiment was conveyed in an address delivered by Ms. Latoya Jeffers, Assistant Secretary in the ministry on behalf of the minister at the opening ceremony of Gender Expo ’22 at the Malcolm Guishard Recreational Park on March 18, 2022.
“The Pandemic brought with it more than physical ailment…It also brought a near halt to the largest industry of our Federation, Tourism. This brought us an even more peculiar problem as women make up the large majority of workers in the tourism service sector. Add to this equation the fact that in St. Kitts and Nevis over 50 per cent of households are female-headed, single-parent households and you can immediately understand that not only were many women left without work but many households were left without an income.
“This occurrence brings to light the importance of empowering women to diversify their skills and/or owning their own businesses so that they are able to adapt in times of uncertainty. This is just what we began doing in 2019, offering a variety of classes in fruit carving, sewing, basket weaving, hat making and plumbing.
“We wanted to ensure our women were retooled, and able to provide for themselves and those that depend on them. I am happy that we did not stop there. We understood that our women, where they lacked it, needed to be taught how to bring business ideas to real-life income-earning ventures so that their skills and creativity would actually be profitable to them,” she said.
According to Mrs. Brandy-Williams, the exhibits at Gender Expo ’22 represent the work of beneficiaries of two business boot camps hosted by the department over the past two years to bring about the economic stability of the women and families both now and into the future generations.
She noted that some of the participants already had business ideas or started their businesses on a small scale, however, the department ensured that they benefited from learning the practical steps to move their venture from conceptualisation to actualisation. The importance of adding value to goods to bring about a higher and more rewarding income was also highlighted.
She congratulated the participants and encouraged them to continue to grow from strength to strength.
“It is hard to walk any journey alone, and business is no different. It is our hope that the strategic linkages that exist in this room today would be solidified through effective networking and utilised to bring about the sustainable businesses that we all desire to see on our island of Nevis.
“I congratulate you participants, and encourage you not to limit yourselves but to continue striving for success for you, your families and for the Nevisian community,” she said.
Remarks were made by Hon. Spencer Brand on behalf of Hon. Mark Brantley, Premier of Nevis; and His Excellency Michael Lin, Taiwan Ambassador to St. Kitts and Nevis.
Also present were Her Honour Hyletta Liburd, Deputy Governor-General of Nevis.