Flashback on AFETT's 2015 Budget Discussion
A flashback on our Women and the Budget event held in
AFETT’s Post Budget Meeting – Women and the 2015/2016 Budget
Ladies & Gentlemen, Good Morning.
I am delighted to extend a very warm welcome all of you to AFETT’s Post Budget Breakfast
Meeting, entitled, Women and the 2016 Budget.
This is the second time the Association has come together in this forum to engage in discussions and exchange ideas about the national budget. To the members of the Association and our guests here today, thank you for your commitment and for joining us this morning.
Before we jump in, I have just one housekeeping note. If you’re tweeting about today’s event—and we absolutely encourage you to do so—please use hashtag #afettbudgettalk.
We are gathered at an important moment in our work to advance gender equality and to promote women’s economic empowerment. The Board of Directors of AFETT recognizes we have an opportunity to reinforce the vital role of civil society and we know our work is vital to the empowerment of women and girls.
We are also at a critical juncture when it comes to understanding our nation’s current, economic predicament. The Honourable Minister of Finance painted a rather dismal picture; namely:
• The economy has remained stagnant for the past 5 years
• Real output in the energy sector declined again in 2015, making this the fourth annual decline in the past five years
• Activity in the non – energy sector has also weakened, with a loss of momentum in construction, distribution and manufacturing;
• A major cut in Trinidad and Tobago’s energy sector revenues.
Now more than ever, we recognise that managing public expenditure is required to address several new economic challenges such as (revenue generation, economic diversification, infrastructure, and monetary policy). But also social challenges and policy objectives, such as poverty reduction, environmental control and gender mainstreaming.
AFETT does not necessarily demand additional financial resources on gender matters, but AFETT calls for the incorporation of gender analysis in government programs at any level of funding. A close look at our country data will suggest that we have only been exposed to the old concept of the allocation of some of the government’s resources to the ministries or other organisations in charge of women’s affairs rather than analysing the gender impact of resources allocated to all or at least gender – sensitive sectors, in which government’s interventions are substantial, such as health, education, national security, agriculture, housing, labour and employment.
The esteemed members of our panel will provide a deeper perspective on this and much more. These discussions will help us make evidence-based decisions about how to better empower women in the economy. As we talk about how to empower women—all women—to fully participate in the economy, we must bear in mind that healthy economies require the participation of healthy women.
A community effort is exactly the kind we need to make real, lasting progress. Because empowering women is a complex challenge that requires a collaborative solution—one in which we can all play a role. And that’s why you’re here today.
As a policy maker, you can pass laws for fair pay. As a government official, you can start programmes that break down barriers for women entrepreneurs. As a business leader, you can change your company policies to make things easier for working families. As an entrepreneur, you can share your knowledge of where the barriers remain, and extend a hand to the women coming behind you. As an academic or researcher, you can help us better understand the challenges women and girls face in Trinidad and Tobago and around the world, and help to quantify the social and economic benefits of gender equality. As a member of civil society or the press, you can hold us accountable to our promises, press for new commitments, and shine a light on the everyday realities of women and girls.
Each of us here has something to contribute, something that will unify our efforts so they are strong, strategic, and sustained. This along with other events hosted by AFETT is just part of that process.
I wish you a fruitful deliberation and look forward to hearing your views and the results of today’s discussions.
AFETT President, Cavelle Joseph, gives her Welcome Remarks.