Current Affairs

Current Affairs




Davies cites gender inequality among concerns of region
Observer Reporter
Thursday, December 05, 2002


Finance Minister Omar Davies shares a joke with United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) representative, Hetty Sarjeant at the launch of the UNFPA State of the World Population Report at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston on Tuesday.

FINANCE Minister Omar Davies on Tuesday cited gender inequality, ageing and violence as key areas of concern in Jamaica and the Caribbean.

"We in the Caribbean have the problem of the marginalisation of the male. It must be a concern if 75 per cent of those at university are females; if most of the males in lock-up are of a certain age and are more prone to violence. We have to ask why and how do we face the problem?" he said. "... many of our young boys are dead, in prison or missing... the problem is growing and we need to take some steps to deal with it by going beyond noting the statistics."

He was speaking at the launch of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) 'State of the World Report 2002' at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston.

Davies also pointed out that studies needed to be done to see what stimulated higher levels of violence in Jamaica and whether there was adequate infrastructure to deal with Jamaica's ageing population.

"In my constituency old people have been abandoned and the politician has become the caregiver -- the social security system. This has implications for the health system, for example insurance is provided until retirement and then for some, the benefits decline. This is silly as it is now needed more than ever," he said.

Hetty Sarjeant, UNFPA representative for the English- and Dutch- speaking Caribbean, told the launch that governments, communities, the private sector and the international community must work together more closely to tackle global problems such as poverty and reproductive health.

"What is the way forward? The report also advances several recommendations for global action. The essential requirements are to target assistance directly to the poor, to reduce their costs and to give them a voice in the policies and programmes that affect them," Sarjeant said.

The theme of the UNFPA's 25th annual report is poverty and its relationship to population questions. The title is 'People, Poverty and Possibilities'.

Some of the key highlights of the report are:

* that the promotion of better reproductive health also promotes economic growth and reduces poverty;

* fertility and population growth are highest in the 49 least developed countries;

* three billion people (half the world's population) live on less thann $2 a day and one billion live on less than $1 a day;

* the gap between rich and poor countries continues to widen, with the difference in per capita income between the world's wealthiest and poorest 20 per cent growing from 30 to one in 1960 to 78 to one in 1994.