NGOs, UWI Guild: PM should rethink recovery team

Colin Robinson. -
Colin Robinson. -

THERE continues to be mixed reactions to the Prime Minister’s announcement of a “Road Map Recovery” team to help TT to recover after the covid19 crisis.

This was announced at a post-Cabinet press briefing at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s, on Thursday.

Executive director of the Coalition Advocating for Inclusion of Sexual Orientation (CAISO) Colin Robinson told Newsday the information about the team thus far has been insufficient.

“He seemed to say very little about both mission and function. I think very few people in the nation are clear about what this body is supposed to do and how it is supposed to do it.”

Robinson, also a Newsday columnist, said he also has other concerns, including the effectiveness of the team’s members. He said there is a “huge sectoral gap” that needs to be filled if its aim is to address “recovery as a whole.

“It is a body of business people, government folks, economists, two union representatives and one person as designated to voice the public interest.”

The team will be chaired by Dr Rowley and includes Public Utilities Minister Robert Le Hunte; Public Administration Minister Allyson West; businessmen Gerry Brooks, Christian Mouttet, Ronnie Mohammed, Sean Roach, Allan Warner, Vincent Perreira, Robert Bermudez and Colin Soo Ping Chow; former finance ministers Wendell Mottley and Winston Dookeran; labour representatives Christopher Henry and Michael Annisette; Bankers Association president Karen Darbasie; Vishnu Dhanpaul; Allyson Lewis; Karl Theodore; Selwyn Hazel; energy expert Gregory McGuire; and Single Fathers Association president Rondell Feeles.

Robinson said the group’s composition is “crazy” and “not a recipe for inclusive participatory governance.” He said it was not well thought-out.

But he said it is a good opportunity to engage in transformational work, and he looks forward to getting further clarity from the government.

Stephanie Leitch, director of the feminist organisation Womantra, shared similar sentiments. She said the team appears to have been selected solely to secure economic recovery, but is neither gender neutral, nor “confined to the remit of economics.

“Gender equality is not simply a women’s issue but a business issue, and is essential for economies and communities to thrive. While similar numbers of men and women may be affected by losing paid employment, women’s unpaid work has increased exponentially as a result of school closures and the increased needs of other members of the household requiring care, including the elderly.”

She said because of the stay-at-home restrictions, women and children are now more vulnerable to domestic and gender-based violence, as they are now “trapped” at home with their abusers. Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith recently confirmed this.

Only three women were included in the recovery team – a number Leitch considers unacceptable.

“When there is a call for equal representation, it is not based on a desire for tokenism, but a demand for an inclusive and broad vision of what recovery from this pandemic looks like for all citizens.

“There is only one representative from civil society, which is also concerning. While the Single Fathers’ Association may have unique insights, so do any number of women’s rights organisations that have the kind of expertise needed to carefully consider the effects of covid19 on women and girls, citizen-centred development, social protection and the economy.”

She also wants measures put in place to ensure women have access to credit and loans, since “a majority of women occupy the informal economy and are low-income earners.”

UWI St Augustine’s Student Guild vice-president Nathanael John said in a release while the decision to set up the team is a commendable one, it lacks many “critical perspectives.”

He agreed with Leitch on the lack of female representation and added that the team also did not include enough young people.

“This team comprises many experts, who sit at the top of their organisations or respective fields which creates a top-down approach to the solving of issues. History has shown that having a top-down approach fails to connect and understand the real needs and the struggles of the men and women who are at the grassroots level of society, who are the most severely impacted by this global pandemic.”

He added that women and children are often the most severely affected group during any national crisis and suggested including women’s and gender equality groups.

In this same manner, he said, the youth should be included as their voice is critical.


"NGOs, UWI Guild: PM should rethink recovery team"

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