Dr Kris Rampersad and former President Paula-Mae Weekes at the 2018 national awards ceremony. – Office of the President
AT this year’s national awards ceremony on Republic Day on Sunday, no one was awarded the Medal for the Development of Women, raising questions in the minds of some members of the public.
Office of the President sources told Newsday on Sunday their only role was to host the event by way of Her Excellency Christine Kangaloo and the provision of President’s House. The selection of awardees was done by an awards committee chaired by Chief Justice Ivor Archie.
The Office of President website said the award is for “any person for outstanding contribution to the development of women’s rights and issues.”
It may be awarded in gold, silver or bronze in accordance with the assessed value of the service rendered, up to a maximum of ten awards in any one year.
Contacted by Newsday, Network of Women’s NGOs former head Dr Kris Rampersad congratulated all recipients and especially the women awardees.
“I am not sure why no award was given for the category of the Medal for the Development of Women. As you may recall when we recommended introduction of the award from the Women Agents of Change initiative it was meant to recognise the contributions to advancement of women and the mandate of gender equality.
“We have seen over the years that there were shifts in it being awarded in some instances to women or groups whose work was not necessarily focussed on development of women.” She had originally advocated to establish a women’s award.
A deficit still persists in the numbers of women receiving national awards in other categories, said Rampersad, who received the National Award for the Development of Women (gold) for contributions to advancement of women and journalism in 2018 and is now an international development specialist.
“While we have seen increased focus on the role of women and the drive for gender equality that work is by no means over.
“What we do need is for the many women who are benefiting from our tireless efforts and are occupying higher places in management and other positions including in the office of the President, Parliament and elsewhere to ensure that equality remains at the top of developmental agenda with targeted actions to achieve this.
“The work in relation to gender equality is by no means over and in fact we have only just begun.”
She said the Women Agents of Change initiative has now been absorbed into the development work of the UN and other international bodies.
Rampersad concluded to Newsday, “Perhaps it is best that you get from the awards committee if it felt that there were no women deserving of the award this year or why none was awarded. There is certainly need for rededication to advancing the work to bridge gender gaps and build on the achievements we have made to date as well as to concerted address the persistent and systemised dimensions of the gender gap that is inhibiting progress and change.”