A Strong Signal to the Region – Advancing Women’s Leadership

Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago – 14 May, 2021 (TTO): The Caribbean Women in Leadership (CIWiL) Regional Secretariat celebrates and extends congratulations to Dr. Carla Barnett on her appointment as the 8th Secretary General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). Dr. Barnett’s selection is historic as she becomes the first woman to serve as Secretary General of the oldest surviving integration movement in the developing world.

Dr. Barnett holds a PhD in Social Sciences from the University of the West Indies, (Mona Campus) and has extensive experience at the executive level of the public service in Belize and throughout the Caribbean.  Notably, Dr. Barnett was also the first woman to serve as Deputy Secretary General from 1997 to 2002.

We applaud the appointment made by Caribbean leaders at the 21st Special Meeting of CARICOM particularly at a time when recent global events have caused us to renew our focus and efforts to create a gender equal world.  The appointment of Dr. Barnett is especially significant as women in the Caribbean remain under-represented in positions of national and regional decision-making and continue to face various barriers in accessing leadership spaces.

The appointment of Dr. Barnett is a strong signal to our region and to the world, that gender equality at the highest levels of leadership can be achieved. CIWiL continues to work with women and men all over the Caribbean for the sustainable and transformational development of our region, and particularly to remove the structural barriers to women’s full and equal participation. We join with the international community in continuing to call for increased participation of women in leadership and decision-making which is key to achieving gender equitable outcomes for our societies. These commitments are outlined in international instruments such as the Beijing Platform for Action, CEDAW and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Dr. Barnett is tasked with leading CARICOM into a complex global environment and through the myriad challenges brought about by the COVID 19 pandemic. As with most crises and natural disasters, these challenges often affect women and girls disproportionately and worsen pre-existing vulnerabilities. This reality must be distinctly addressed. CIWiL looks forward to joining with CARICOM, governments and other stakeholders to continue the important work to increase access and equitable participation in decision making at all levels which is essential in promoting democracy, gender equality and good governance.

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