The successful hosting of a Global Cooperative and Training Framework (GCTF)-Affiliated Event in Saint Lucia is already being hailed as a crucial continuation point for the promotion of women’s economic empowerment across Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC).
The GCTF Affiliated Event, held at Harbour Club Hotel, in Rodney Bay, Saint Lucia, August 26, 2022, was hosted jointly by the Embassy of the Republic of China (Taiwan) in Saint Lucia; the U.S. Embassy in Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean and the OECS, and the Government of Saint Lucia. Hosted under the theme, “Pursuing Inclusive and Gender-Equal Recovery: Empowering Women in the Post-Pandemic Era,” Friday’s jointly developed event emphasized women’s economic empowerment as Taiwan, the United States, Saint Lucia, and other LAC countries collaborate to raise awareness and broadened support for youth and women in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Speaking at the opening of the GCTF Affiliated Event, His Excellency Peter Chia-yen Chen, Taiwan’s Ambassador to Saint Lucia, said strengthening the promotion of women’s empowerment especially during the COVID-19 era remains crucial in developing and shaping societies.
“Our main target and concern is to consider policy recommendations to the environment of women empowerment in the time of pandemic recovery,” Ambassador Chen said. “We look forward to hearing keynote speakers and panelists share their experiences with regard to their own women’s empowerment and women’s rights promotion realizations. From our fruitful discussions, we hope that participants can bring some new ideas to their countries to benefit more women and their families, and promote the development of the society and country.”
Linda Taglialatela, U.S. Ambassador to the OECS and Barbados, said supporting women’s entrepreneurship is an important step towards empowering them in the global marketplace.
“One of the silver linings of the COVID-19 pandemic is that it placed the spotlight on the crucial issue of women’s participation in the labour force,” Taglialatela said. “According to one study, 54 million women around the world left the workforce during the pandemic. Of those women, around 90% have not returned to work, as compared to 70% of the men. This event needs to address the issue directly and hopes that the best practices and policy recommendations that we explore today will promote women’s economic empowerment within the region for years to come.”
In his opening remarks, Hon. Philip J. Pierre, Prime Minister of Saint Lucia, said women were hardest hit by the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. He highlighted the Upskilling Academy Jennès Programme, a vocational skills training programme which is funded by the Government of Taiwan and administered by Sir Arthur Lewis Community College (SALCC).
“These opportunities provided by the Government of Taiwan are huge investments in our human resources, which are the main capital of our nation,” Hon. Pierre said. “As a government that has promised to put people first, I’m very grateful that Taiwan is a formidable partner and ensures that we deliver on that promise. People are and must remain the main priority of nation-building, and we aim to keep it that way. The well-being of our people must be first in our deliberations and our decisions and we thank Taiwan for helping us in this venture.”
Keynote speaker, Ms. Kerri Hannan, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs from U.S. Department of State, said that with over 20 million female entrepreneurs emanating from the Hemisphere, economic prosperity requires their full and equitable inclusion.
“We know that the burden of the COVID-19 economic shock hit women and marginalized groups the hardest,” Hannan noted. “Job losses have been especially high for women, younger and older workers, less educated workers, and those who work in the informal sector. The inclusion of women in the workforce remains essential for economic recovery and growth. The United States remains committed to partnering with governments, the private sector and civil society partners throughout the Hemisphere to address structural barriers like limited childcare, unsafe streets, and to increase training and resources offered by employers, and to address cultural barriers to ensure women’s full participation in the workforce and the global economy.”
Hon. Dr. Virginia Albert-Poyotte, Minister for the Public Service, Home Affairs, Labour and Gender Affairs of Saint Lucia, said the passing of the Domestic Violence Bill in March this year in Saint Lucia was a major milestone for women, however, she added that women still face many challenges.
“The pandemic has set back the efforts made in the past to achieve gender equality by almost two decades,” she said. “Instead of progress, we regressed. However, we may still be able to play catch-up, or even surpass our expectations, if we use the right strategy and manage our resources efficiently and effectively. That means we have to stretch the dollar, develop our human resources, and work in partnership.”
After the COVID-19 pandemic, recognizing women and girls are not only the hardest hit by this health crisis, but they are also the backbone of recovery in their communities, a recovery strategy designed with a gendered lens is critical for ensuring a more inclusive and equal world.
The Global Cooperation and Training Framework was established by Taiwan and the United States in 2015 as a platform to utilize Taiwan’s strengths and expertise to address global issues of mutual concern.
Over the past seven years, the GCTF has held 49 international workshops on topics such as public health, law enforcement cooperation, women’s empowerment, energy efficiency, e-commerce, cybersecurity, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HA/DR), and media literacy. Over 4,500 government officials, experts, and civil society representatives from more than 100 countries have participated in these events. Japan became a full partner to this framework in 2019, and has joined Taiwan and the United States in cohosting all GCTF workshops held since then.
The event was also sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Republic of China (Taiwan), the American Institute in Taiwan, and the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association, demonstrating the shared value and interest of many countries, and serving as an appropriate platform to exchange ideas. A seminar was held from 9:00 a.m. to 11:35 a.m. followed by a workshop and a site visit to a seamoss farm in the afternoon.