Useless “Gender Policy” vs. Equal Rights Supported By Laws – Barbados Government Minister Byer Suckoo Needs A Lesson In The Difference

The Barbados government is committed to ensuring that a National Policy on Gender is developed, says Minister of Youth, Family and Sports, Esther Byer Suckoo.

She made the comments last Friday during a courtesy call by outgoing Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Harold Robinson, and incoming Deputy Director for the Caribbean Region, Hernando Agudelo.

Byer Suckoo explained that once the gender policy was formulated, it would be laid in Parliament and debated. “There are still questions in people’s minds about gender, and we need to open up discussion at a national level and give them the opportunity to express themselves,” she stated…

… from the Caribbean Net News article Barbados to have a gender policy

The Legacy Of Esther Byer Suckoo: All Talk – No Action

blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah - Byer-Suckoo is All Talk, Zero Action

blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah - Byer-Suckoo is All Talk, Zero Action

When Esther Byer-Suckoo was elected in January 2008, we were pleased and excited because we thought that she would bring a much-needed women’s perspective, professionalism and a sense of urgency to Barbados government. We thought that she would be effective and a leader in fighting for the social changes and legal protections that Bajan women need to achieve equal rights under law.

How wrong we were.

Byer-Suckoo doesn’t seem to realise that talking and talking and talking accomplishes nothing. She continues to make the same mistakes that resulted in her being sacked from the position of Minister of the Environment in November, 2008. She doesn’t understand that well-written and effective laws are necessary to lead societal change.

In truth, Byer-Suckoo operates under the same fallacy as most of her DLP comrades: she believes that words are actions.

No Employment Equality Law For Women In Barbados

Let’s start with a gender-equality premise so basic, so simple, that most free and democratic societies have already embraced the concept: no person should be excluded from being employed on the basis of their gender. No woman should be told, “You can’t apply for that job because we only hire men for this position.”

Esther, you can tell young Bajan women that they can be successful in Bajan society and business – you can tell them anything you want – but as long as the government considers that women’s rights aren’t worth protecting in law, our daughters, wives and sisters will continue to be second-class citizens.

Barbados Women Need Not Apply: "Preferably male", "2-Man Crew", "Boys for General Work"

Barbados Nation Newspaper Help Wanted Adverts - Women Need Not Apply: "Preferably male", "2-Man Crew", "Boys for General Work"

Most free and democratic societies put laws in place that prohibit excluding women from consideration when hiring or promoting employees. Newspapers and job-banks in the UK, Canada and USA wouldn’t dare print “only men need apply” or any of the other code phrases because gender-based discrimination is prohibited.

That prohibition doesn’t apply in Barbados though – where the Nation newspaper leads the way in keeping women down. Whether it is protecting a senior male journalist charged with the rape of a young female staffer, or simply printing a job advertisement that excludes women, you can count on The Nation!

Suffragettes demanded "DEEDS NOT WORDS" in 1908

Suffragettes demanded "DEEDS NOT WORDS" in 1908. The Barbados DLP Government is 100 years behind the times.

Deeds, Not Words!

Minister Byer-Suckoo would achieve far more if she would stop talking and introduce just one law that would prohibit employers from discriminating against women, and prohibit media from printing help wanted advertisements that exclude women.

Article by Shona with Cliverton.

Further Reading

How bad is Barbados at protecting women and children? Barbados doesn’t even have a law requiring the reporting of suspected child abuse. Byer-Suckoo talked about such a law almost a year ago, but as usual nothing happens. Barbados Government Minister Byer-Suckoo Cautions “Not To Get Our Hopes Up” Waiting For Child Abuse Reporting Legislation

And if a husband has HIV/Aids? Barbados Family Planning Association Head says Don’t tell the wife if hubby has HIV!

Yes sir… we look after our women and children very well here in Barbados.


Filed under Barbados, Crime & Law, Culture & Race Issues, Ethics, Human Rights, News Media

28 responses to “Useless “Gender Policy” vs. Equal Rights Supported By Laws – Barbados Government Minister Byer Suckoo Needs A Lesson In The Difference

  1. Anon

    Women in Barbados seem to want everything on a silver platter.

  2. Shona

    Men in Barbados seem to want everything on a silver platter that is delivered by subservient women. They sure don’t want competition in the job market where the best man for the job might be a woman.

  3. From Trent not Barbados

    I presume that Barbados has laws to prevent employers from advertising for employees of specific races? Can an employer legally exclude candidates of certain races? (ie: “No blacks need apply”)

  4. Chicago

    It is a sad comment on our lawmakers that it is legal for a business to exclude women from some jobs because they are women. How backwards we must look to European countries!

  5. 199

    Chicago, you think that European countries have got nothing better to do than to ‘look’ at us, do you! I doubt that very much! Whilst sympathetic to the main thrust of the argument I wonder whether Barbados does n’t have more pressing demands on its legislature at the moment, such as a need for ITAL legislation and whether Barbadian employers could n’t be relied upon to act more sensibly, in the phrasing of their job advertisements and allocation of jobs. Presumably, there’s already a formal or acknowledged equal pay policy, in place.

  6. cq8

    It is okay to say “no women in this job” but not ok to say “no whites in this job” or “no Indians in this job”.

    Women are only good for a couple of things in Barbados. We only elected one to government and that was close.

  7. True enough, Shona. However, if a woman has achieved to become a minister, more than constant blathering is expected of her.
    It sure would put the men in their place.
    On second thought, blather is what we get from the male politicians.
    Productivity seems to be a foreign word when it comes to politicians.

  8. reality check

    “Presumably, there’s already a formal or acknowledged equal pay policy, in place.”

    Is this somewhat like the integrity legislation and ministerial code that is there in spirit but not really?

    Give us a break!!!

    It is either enshrined in law as a real protection for women or it is not.

  9. Avatar Gurl

    Typical man who never did a thing in his life…

    Hey MAN, go get another MAN if you consider us women a BURDEN!

  10. Avatar Gurl

    Right now, it’s not.

    No laws, no nothing! Kids, run & hide! More broomsticks will get broke on your back real soon!

  11. Saying Nuttin

    don’t restaurants apply specifically for waitresses?
    Don’t massage parlours apply specifically for women?

    As far as I have seen the only jobs which stipulate men only are jobs which are manually inclined and may involve heavy lifting.

    If the sign person in the ad also has to drive who do y’all think will be lifting the signs?

    As usual y’all get and misinterpret the situation.

    Aren’t women heading all types of organisations in Barbados? From Government as Permanent Secretaries, the Accountant General, VAT Director, Commissioner of Inland Revenue, Judges, Magistrates, surveyors, engineers, lawyers doctors, Accountants, bankers, Insurance Executives, you name it

    Small Business Association; Invest Barbados previously; CBC previously; NCF previously; Hotels; Central Bank,

    Barbados entered the twenty-first century a long time ago and I am proud to say that women are constantly selected for powerful and prestigious positions and to suggest that they are seriously discriminated against in hiring practices is both misleading and insulting to the general public especially when that premise is based on two advertisements , one for a sign-maker, the other for general workers. Utter Madness

  12. Nice Young Things

    no problem wit women where I work. They do as they told. Want overtime bit*h? Neva a prob.

  13. Themis

    So because of a single notice, BFP is going to discredit years of women ascending without hindrance in Barbados. Incidentally, women may still be excluded from some jobs in so-called developed countries. Look up the meaning of BFOQ in discrimination cases.

  14. Saying Nuttin

    what sorta stupid comment is that? Whether literal or sarcastic it was a waste of two lines.

  15. reluctant nonbeliever

    Have to agree with Themis and Sayin Nuttin.

    This thread is full of spurious, misdirected outrage.

    Far more outrageous is the frequency of small-ads in the papers where work permits are being sought for jobs that could clearly be done by Bajans.

    The recent one from a hair-dressing salon in Christ Church is a glaring recent example.

  16. Sing-a-song

    How many male nurses does one see working in hospital? In fact let the hospital put one in the female ward and see he## break out. Next time a group of new lawyers is called to the bar check the number of males versus females. There are probably six to ten females to every male. Look at the numbers of new female doctors to new male doctors, the same disproportionate situation. Again, females out number males in the teaching service. Recent news reports state that attempts are to be made to get more males into the teaching service. Seventy (70) per cent of the undergraduates at UWI (Cave Hill) are female! In every area of work except construction and related fields, fishing and some areas of agriculture, females are the majority of the work force. The public service accounts for nearly 30% of the workforce in Barbados. It is staffed overwhelmingly by females and salary scales are gender neutral. The jobs shown in the picture are fairly low skilled jobs and the gender requirement reflect historical cultural attitudes. My wife will divorce me if I were to just suggest bringing a man into the house as a caretaker for our children !!

    So yes there is need for a gender policy …one in favour of males.

  17. Nevermind Laws

    I don’t understand all these people arguing that nothing is wrong with the present situation and that we don’t need laws that insure no gender discrimination in hiring or promotion. They probably would argue that we don’t need new laws against drinking and driving. (breath machine laws)

    It is a national failure that our population does not believe in laws because the people in power usually bend, break or ignore them anyway.

  18. crossroads

    Why create more laws?….No one polices them …..change the thinking of our society and culture through education.

  19. Jason

    You have to change the culture AND have laws. One without the other is no good, but without laws the culture will never change.

    Culture always follows laws, not the other way around. Laws change the culture.

  20. Now listen here boys and girls – let us play fair…

    There’s no need for a gender war on the virtues or lack thereof as to who is being fairly treated in our society…

    Barbados was once a “patriarchal” society…

    It may still be a “man” world but women sure do rule it….

    I hope and pray that we won’t go back to the days of AHAB & JEZEBEL…

    As many of us know – “the spirit of Jezebel is rife” in many quarters of society, especially within the Church and our women (who is the better part of God’s creation) need to understand their role according to Proverbs Chapter 31…

    Equally, as men we too need to play our role effectively based on “LOVE” and “WISDOM” and together through unity, equity and fairplay we can create greater social cohesion and harmony so our kids will have someone tangible to follow…

    So boys and girls – time to put down the muskets and pistols and through compromise, we won’t have to take those 50 paces, turn and fire!!!

  21. reality check

    good points Sing a Song

    and yes there should be policies and laws in place to protect both males and females.

    In the end it is a question of attitude and fairness that must prevail, however, to have no laws or guidelines enshrined to justly ajudicate outrageous situations can only make things worse.

    There will be situations where judges need to be able to quote the laws of the land. Barbados has few laws because it does not serve those at the top.

  22. Anon


    What do you have to say about the 67 year old woman murdering the 23 year old female Vollyball Player?

    Would this fall under your equal rights too? Or since it is a woman killing another woman you will just ignore it?

  23. yatinkiteasy

    If women in Barbados have equal rights, please consider this:
    The child of a Bajan Mother, is not automaticaly entitled to Barbadian Citizenship, whereas the child of a Bajan Father is.(unless the Bajan mother is UNMARRIED)
    Does this make any sense, and why is this situation not corrected by the Powers That Be.

  24. "*Adviser to the President*"

    a maid is a woman
    so whats the problem

  25. Red Lake Lassie

    Here is an interesting excerpt with a quote by a US Supreme Court Judge

    Instead, we continue to hear repugnant assaults on the dignity of minority populations reminiscent of Margaret Sanger, most recently from none other than Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I was shocked to learn that in a recent interview with the New York Times, Justice Ginsburg commented that: “Frankly I had thought that at the time Roe was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of. So that Roe was going to be then set up for Medicaid funding for abortion.”
    Reflect for a minute on that: “populations that we don’t want to have too many of.”
    Incredibly, it appears eugenics is alive and well in our nation’s highest court.

  26. victor

    In countries which do not aIIow gender discrimination in job ads, I wouId be curious to know how many women wouId appIy for jobs invoIving heavy Iifting, etc. when they saw the ads. Even if they did appIy, wouId they get the job at interview if they couIdnt do it? If they did get the job and faiIed to carry it out properIy they wouId get fired anyway. Instead of advertising for a “maid” who is an experienced cook and cIeaner, advertise for a home heIp and see how many men wouId appIy. I wonder if the newspaper wouId print an ad saying onIy gay men need appIy!

  27. The NGO Ludhiana Welfare Organization (Regd.) motto is welfare of all community in the world. It is necessary that one should know his right & duties toward nation and what are the duties of govt. to public? We have started a NGO LWO the website to create awareness among the citizens to use Right to Information Act to get their work done in the government departments. This Act RTI will bring transperancy and accountability in the bureaucracy.

  28. Pingback: NO WOMAN NO CRY « TropicOctagon