Civil society organisations and vulnerable groups need to have a say in the legislative process.
Minister of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs, Kirk Humphrey while delivering the feature address at the opening ceremony of The Livity Project: Policy Forum on Inclusive Approaches to Justice, emphasised that meetings with the target groups was essential to identifying the problems and finding solutions.
“We say in theory that people have the solutions to their problems, but we don’t create the space for people to solve their own problems. We still look to leadership as the old definition of leadership, as I am the Minister, I have the solutions. I do not have the solutions.”
“I know that unless I meet [with members of the group], I will not hear from the people who understand the realities and who have the solutions. That is what we must do in relation to elderly, disabilities, in relation to gender, in relation to all things for which we know we have responsibility,” the Minister said Tuesday.
Humphrey indicated that his Ministry is taking the necessary legislative steps to create spaces for vulnerable groups. He stated that the long-awaited Child Protection Bill will be laid in Parliament “in the coming days”. Additionally, the legislation of the rights of persons with disabilities will “hopefully” be passed in April 2023.
With the pending amalgamation of the National Disabilities Unit, National Assistance Board, Child Care Board and Welfare Department slated for this year, the Minister expects the delivery of goods and services will improve.
“I hope that that would allow us to deliver goods and services faster to the people who need them. And when I say to the people who need them, I mean, everyone, this country has to be able to recognize people in all their diversity and for us to be able to serve those people because they are people,” he insisted.
President of the Barbados Council for the Disabled, Kerryann Ifill lauded the Livity Project for starting “the process of change” and empowering those gathered.
“Today and tomorrow as you explore access to justice, recognise that it will not mean immediate change. It will not mean that we will wake up on Thursday and have a justice system that recognises all of us and appreciates all of us, but what we will do is wake up on Thursday with the tools and the knowledge to begin the process of change,” she said.
Head of the Institute for Gender and Development Studies at the Nita Barrow Unit of the University of West Indies Cave Hill campus, Dr Halimah DeShong added that the policy forum provides an opportunity for marginalised groups to engage in policy and highlight their most pressing concerns.
“This policy forum provides another space to not only reflect on the most urgent concerns within our region but also how our responses must meaningfully embed inclusive policy making. This means policy making that places persons with disabilities, youth, women, gender non-conforming, LGBTQ+ citizens, and the elderly at the centre of official decision making processes.
“We [at the Nita Barrow Unit] firmly believe that while it is equally necessary to have a concentrated focus on groups on the organising around specific concerns, it is equally necessary to focus on coalition-building and solidarity work as we transform and transition to a Caribbean in which every person thrives – a more expansive Caribbean, a fuller Caribbean,” she stressed.
The Livity Project which is a collaboration between the Institute for Gender and Development Studies: Nita Barrow Unit, the Barbados Council of the Disabled and the Eastern Caribbean Alliance for Diversity and Equality (ECADE) is sponsored by the European Union (EU).
The policy forum being held from January 24 to 25, aims at addressing marginalised groups in society, such as persons living with disabilities, LGBTQ+, women, and youth on the regional decision-making processes.