Staff Writer

Problems affecting men in St. Kitts and Nevis have always been treaded on lightly or swept under the carpet, while women have gained most of the attention, but the Department of Gender Affairs has taken the initiative to establish a National Men’s Council (NMC) to deal with prevailing issues.

A guest on a popular radio programme recently, Gender Officer in the Department of Gender Affairs, Troy Watson said the purpose of the body is to champion the cause of men in the Federation, that is, address concerns and advocating on behalf of males in St. Kitts and Nevis.

He explained that for many years the Department has called for men to come together and hold a national conversation on an array of issues that are affecting males across a wide cross-section of society.

“In the Federation we have a wide cross section of men that are faced with different issues, challenges and a majority of the complaints that we have received are from men, and they feel that they are underserved,” Watson noted.

He stressed that after the group is established it will be  more able to represent and interact with anyone who feels that their issues are not being addressed.

Further, Watson said the group will speak on behalf of men losing their personal identity. That would be a challenge for some people in the Federation, noticeably those who have court-related issues.

With the proposal laid out for the establishment of the NMC, the Department is inviting men to volunteer their services to sit on the council because the agency cannot install members of the interim committee.

Watson said NMC members will be voted upon at a meeting on Wednesday (June 15).

“We at the Department of Gender Affairs would not want to select a team and then not appoint anybody,” Watson explained. “That would not be fair or just. We are asking men to come and be a part of this movement and decide on  their own executives to establish their own rules and address their own goals about issues affecting them.”

According to Watson, due to the absence of a men’s council no group has approached international donor agencies to appeal for funding. Most of the monies are given to projects assisting women and children across the Caribbean region and the wider world.

Groups representing men’s interests have long been a stagnant force, but the Gender Officer sounded a word of optimism during his stint on the radio programme.

He stated that there is limited funding available, “if men can unite and form a network tying into the broader cross section of the Caribbean region it would assist them.”

In conclusion, Watson pointed out there are some  “Caribbean Action Networks,” among others, that would provide the same representation–but if a council  is in place in the federation then ties can be fostered to address the issue plaguing men in the entire region.