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International forum held in St Kitts and Nevis to further promote women’s economic development in the Eastern Caribbean

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BASSETERRE, St. Kitts (SKNIS) – Government Ministers, corporate leaders, entrepreneurs and experts from regional and international organizations, gathered at the St. Kitts Marriott Resort on Thursday, December 08 to take part in the Women’s Empowerment Project’s International Forum organized by the Embassy of the Republic of China (Taiwan).

The International Forum was guided by the theme, “Towards a New Frontier: Promoting Sustainable Development in the Eastern Caribbean through Women’s Economic Empowerment.”

The Republic of China (Taiwan) launched the Women’s Empowerment Project in 2021. It is designed to strengthen the economic empowerment of women by providing them with the resources needed to support entrepreneurship, through vocational training and entrepreneurship counseling.

Among those in attendance at today’s event were the Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, the Honourable Dr. Terrance Drew; Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Gender Affairs, the Honourable Dr. Geoffrey Hanley; Junior Minister responsible for Gender Affairs, the Honourable Isalean Phillip; the Honourable Samal Duggins; His Excellency Michael Chau-Horng Lin, Ambassador of the Republic of China (Taiwan); Saint Lucia’s Minister for Commerce, Manufacturing, Business Development, Cooperatives and Consumer Affairs, the Honourable Emma Hippolyte; Ms. Cierra Saylor of the U.S. Embassy in Barbados, and other notable dignitaries.

In giving an overview of the project to date, Ambassador Lin noted that in less than fifteen months, two hundred (200) trainees benefitted from the vocational training courses, sixty (60) trainees were awarded start-up grants and one hundred and twenty (120) micro, small and medium sized enterprises were offered counseling services under the Women’s Empowerment Programme.

“We engaged in these efforts in the hope that women will become more financially resilient and a steadfast force in society,” the Ambassador stated.

Prime Minister Dr. Drew commented that the issue of women’s empowerment remains high on the agenda of his Government and one that will continue to be addressed.

“Our decision is based on a number of principles but the obvious principle is equity and that we understand clearly that there is no difference between the genders. But in addition to that we know that in St. Kitts and Nevis most of our households are headed by women and therefore when you would have had an event like COVID-19 that would have rocked our economy, like others around the world, one would expect that women will be disproportionately affected, negatively,” said Prime Minister Dr. Drew. “And so, it makes a lot of sense to have a programme like this, especially in St. Kitts and Nevis, targeting women because as this programme empowers women, it empowers the home, it empowers children, it empowers partners, families, communities and the nation on a whole.”

Presentations were also made by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of China (Taiwan), H. E. Dr. Jaushieh Joseph Wu and the Secretary General of the International Cooperation and Development Fund (Taiwan ICDF), Mr. T. Y. Timothy Hsiang.

Topics discussed during the one-day event included the nexus between women’s economic empowerment and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), current trends and challenges in women’s economic empowerment in the Eastern Caribbean, the role of women in global sustainability and the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on SMEs financing in the Eastern Caribbean and the urgent need for a modern credit ecosystem.

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