Minister Albert-Poyotte – Access to technology can help accelerate women’s empowerment

Home Affairs Minister Dr. Virginia Albert-Poyotte
Home Affairs Minister Dr. Virginia Albert-Poyotte

Home Affairs Minister Dr. Virginia Albert-Poyotte says the access to technology and the use of it universally can help accelerate women’s empowerment post pandemic to make up for the setbacks created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Albert-Poyotte, in an address to the nation on Wednesday March 8, (International Women’s Day), said Saint Lucia has made great strides in that regard— in the education sector at least.

Initiatives such as the Coding and Robotics Boot Camps for Children, Regional Girls STEAM Symposium, iLearn Developer, Smart Classroom Initiative, One Laptop Per Child Initiative, ConnectEd and others should provide the assurance that digital technology (in the education sector) is a priority for all, the minister said.

The abovementioned programmes benefit both girls and boys.

“Development partners such as the World Bank and the Government of the Republic of China (Taiwan) as well as corporate Saint Lucia such as the Cell and others must be commended for their support in funding some of these initiatives. Partnership still remains an imperative for national development, including for gender equality and the advancement of women,” Albert-Poyotte said in her address.

“Technology and innovation do not end in the education sector. I am pleased with the introduction of DigiGov that makes transacting business with various departments and agencies of government easier. The impact of this innovative use of technology to serve the public is an advantage for women who tend to be busy. DigiGov grants easy access to services virtually,” she noted, adding that “the innovations that have emerged from Climate-smart Agricultural practices for instance and the emphasis on such opportunities for women are noteworthy strides.”

Innovative financing is the next level that “small holders” and women in the agricultural sector will benefit from in the coming months, Albert-Poyotte stated.

“Only two weeks ago, we ended the celebration of 44 years of Independence as a nation that focused on coming together as one people. In a similar fashion during the month where we celebrate women, it is an opportunity for us to see ourselves as one people. What one does affects us all – whether good or bad. Seen in that light, International Women’s Day is not just about women. Women’s issues are development issues and development issues concern everyone,” the minister said.

She called on Saint Lucians to join in this year’s commemoration to lobby for the advancement of everyone in technology and innovation – both in terms of access to technology and the skills to use it effectively.

Technology and innovation removes the barrier of physical strength that has often been blamed for the non-participation of women in certain fields, she noted.

According to her, technology has created the opportunity to break down these barriers and allows women and men to work side by side.

“Use the month to honour women who have excelled, women who are not giving up, women who are carrying the burden of families and communities. Let us take the opportunity that this month affords us to say thank you to our women leaders in government, the private Sector and in civil society,” Albert-Poyotte said.

“Only Friday we hosted a forum on women in politics at the House of Parliament in collaboration with the Inter-American Commission on the Status of Women. As today is the first anniversary of the passage of the historic Domestic Violence Act, I want to validate the regional and international recognition given to Saint Lucia for the passage of this piece of legislation,” she added.

Since its passage, there has been some police training, the development of guides for the use of the Act and sensitization of some community and civil society organisations, Albert-Poyotte noted, whilst pointing out that it is a work in progress.

“This year we will intensify public sensitization around the Act. On March 7, UNICEF and PCI Media, through the Regional Spotlight Initiative, launched a media package for a GBV (gender-based violence) Awareness Campaign which will assist the Department of Gender Affairs, other agencies of government and civil society organisations in their sensitization efforts around GBV and the Domestic Violence Act,” she said.

“I would like to reiterate the Government of Saint Lucia’s commitment to gender equality and the advancement of women as a national development goal, and encourage all to participate in the observance of International Women’s Day. I commend the civil society organisations for their continued strides in the advancement of women and girls. I applaud the newly identified Gender Focal Points, (who you will be hearing much more about in the coming months) from the various departments, ministries and agencies of government and encourage you to make the best of this opportunity to ensure that national development benefits us all equally,” she added.

Under the theme “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality”, the United Nations’ Observance of International Women’s Day 2023 will highlight the need for inclusive and transformative technology and digital education.

Albert-Poyotte noted that the theme is fitting “given how innovation and technology have had an even greater influence on almost all aspects of life since the pandemic era.”

“The reason I am not celebrating the activities of this week with you in person, is because I am attending the 67th Session on the Status of Women in New York where I will be interfacing with gender affairs ministers, development partners and civil society groups from all over the world as we deliberate on the theme, ‘Innovation and technological change and education in the digital age for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls’. I am honoured to be representing you and advocating on your behalf at that forum,” the minister said.

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