By Aabigayle McIntosh
The issue of women’s under-representation in parliament was a focal point for regional parliamentarians who convened at a recently concluded meeting in the Turks and Caicos Islands. The event marked the 45th annual conference of the Caribbean Americas and Atlantic Region of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, taking place from July 21st to 28th, with the theme “Building a Resilient Region in the Face of Global Challenges.”
Heading the Antigua and Barbuda delegation was Alincia Williams-Grant, President of the Senate, who shared insights about the conference during this week’s Upper House session. Williams-Grant noted that the event marked the first gathering of women parliamentarians since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The main focus was on addressing the ongoing gender imbalance in parliamentary representation across the region. Discussions revolved around the potential impact of women caucuses in rectifying this disparity, along with delving into gender-related matters and the challenges that women encounter in leadership roles. Additionally, the talks centred on approaching national issues from a more inclusive standpoint.
One of the conference’s key points of discussion was the concerning issue of youth crime in the region. The gathering urged women parliamentarians to take on a more substantial role in implementing interventions, suggesting amendments to policies and legislation, and collaborating with organizations to gather essential data that can inform decisions related to this pressing concern.
“We have been working trying to get our resources tuned up in our training and building network and partnerships so that we can be more equipped as legislators”, the Senate President said.
President Williams-Grant revealed that during the CAA regional conference, the business session of the Caribbean Women Parliamentarian’s caucus focused on examining the existing operational protocols and constitution of the network. This examination led to the identification of several adjustments that will be subject to further deliberation, review, and potential adoption in the upcoming year. These changes are slated for discussion and potential approval at the subsequent regional and annual conference in the following year.