Basseterre, St. Kitts (SKNIS):The Honourable Isalean Phillip, Minister of State responsible for Social Development and Gender Affairs has advocated for changes to be made to the work programme at His Majesty’s Prison which would grant certain rights to female inmates currently enjoyed by males.
During her appearance on the debut edition of “Infocus“, the new St. Kitts and Nevis Information Service (SKNIS) Television and Radio Programme on Wednesday, March 01, 2023, Minister Phillip said that women inmates should be given equal privilege.
“One of the things for our prison programme is that we try to engage the women just like we would for male inmates. In terms of skills and educational developments, women are supported in terms of doing little crafts and those kinds of things. It could be an opportunity for women to leave the prison to display what they can do and also to have opportunities to contribute to community development as we have the male inmates doing,” said Minister Phillip. “Why can’t we have some of the women go out and do some of the gardening, beautification of our roundabouts? We see our men going out and painting, why can’t women also get opportunities to develop those skills? There is no reason in this day and age as to why that policy still exists.”
She noted that the Department of Gender Affairs ran a programme for women in prison, which highlighted several gender inequalities such as women being unable to go outside the prison to perform community service. This, she said, is an example of gender inequality.
Minister Phillip briefly explained the difference between gender equality and gender equity.
“When we think about equality, we think about males and females being able to access the same rights and privileges that are typically being ascribed legislatively, systematically and institutionally,” said the Minister of State. “Now, historically, when it comes to the women’s movement, the feminist movement, it was really advocating for equality because there was a time when women were not allowed to vote, go to school, access rights and privileges in society by virtue of the fact that they were females. And so, instances like that, that is where we talk about inequality,” Minister Phillip added.
“When it comes to equity, we want to think about how we can actually achieve equality when it was denied historically for years. Equity is about fairness, so we want to think about how we can be fairer in the way that we ensure women and men are actually benefiting from whatever it is that’s occurring in society,” she further stated.
Minister Phillip used, for example, the fact that there are fewer women in representation and leadership, noting that the initiative taken by the Prime Minister the Honourable. Dr. Terrance Drew to “appoint women in leadership positions is an effort to be more equitable in terms of the distribution of power and resources.”