Basseterre, St. Kitts, March 14, 2017 (SKNIS): There is a cultural barrier inhibiting the work of gender sensitization in the country, said Acting Director of the Department of Gender Affairs, Celia Christopher. Addressing the subject of gender socialization on International Women’s Day on March 08 on the radio programme “Working For You,”
Mrs. Christopher noted that there are myths as it relates to the value of women in society, which have been inculcated by cultural norms and practices.
“The biggest obstacle or barrier to gender sensitization is the cultural challenge. This has been inculcated in people over the years and it is so difficult to get them to break out of that mindset,” she said.
She addressed the issue in the context of division of chores in some families, where girls and boys are given specific tasks such as washing the dishes or cleaning the yard. That division of tasks is at times stereotyped even into adulthood where women are seen just as homemakers and men should not be performing tasks assigned to women. Mrs. Christopher said this should not be the case.
“We should not have that division of labour in the home because once you inculcate that, it is going to move from the home, to the school, to the workplace and they are going to be wanting to choose the things they want to do along the line that they were taught,” Mrs. Christopher said.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Christopher said there are some “gender sensitive men” who are helping the department break the negative stereotypes foisted upon women.
“It’s not just about women’s affairs and it’s not about confrontation…we have some very gender sensitive men, and they are working along with us because they want to change the gender stereotypes that are foisted upon women and so we are very grateful,” she explained. She also noted that some gender sensitization exercises are done in schools and in other institutions in both St. Kitts and Nevis.