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Focus on Women's Needs Political Candidates Told

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad and Tobago, April 21, 2010 – Political parties contesting Trinidad’s May 24 elections have been urged to incorporate the Women’s Mandate for Action into their manifestos.

This call has come from the Network of NGOs of Trinidad and Tobago for the Advancement of Women. International relations director for the network, Dr Kris Rampersad, said candidates should ensure the inclusion of focus areas such as gender policy, code of ethics for public officials, women’s health and reproductive rights, disabilities/special needs, education, democracy and constitution reform, employment and the economy, media, the environment, culture and the culture of violence, and crime and the drug economy.

In a release issued yesterday, April 20, Rampersad said women’s issues as part of mainstream politics seemed to have come into their own in this election, and could very well be the deciding factor in who wins and who loses.

“What we are demanding is that these issues, perspectives and approaches be integrated into all policies and decision making, budget design and implementation and action. Our mandate for action is not a ‘sideshow’; women’s issues must be centre-stage, as all research is now showing if we are to make an impact on reducing poverty and achieving sustainability and other development goals.”

The “Women’s Mandate for Action presents women as a political constituency, as has labour, the private sector, and religious groups, Rampersad noted.

“We recognize differences and reject the politics of divide and rule which has shaped and deepened ethnic tensions among the people of Trinidad and Tobago. Women have been excluded from political decision-making at the highest level and we make this intervention confident of the positive impact our contribution will have on the development of our society. We call for the reorientation of the use of power. Power structures must be seen to be transparent and accountable and must meet the needs of ordinary people,” stressed Rampersad.

“Our mandate for action which has emerged from our work of women's organizations over many years and from commitments agreed to by successive governments as the Convention of the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women, the Beijing Platform for Action, the UN Declaration of Human Rights and the Nairobi Forward Looking Strategies. These provide the basis for a comprehensive framework for the advancement of women and the enjoyment of basic rights to gender equity, the principles of which must further inform the national gender policy,” she explained.

“A gender policy must reaffirm the commitment in the constitution to gender equity and social justice and provide a framework to guide and inform transformation of existing inequitable gender relations. The gender policy must allow for a gender perspective and analysis to be integrated into the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of all government policies and programmes,” Rampersad added.

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