Wednesday, 13 February 2013 02:30
By Delana Isles
Antigua St. John's - PRO with the Gilbert Agriculture and Rural Development Centre (GARDC) Brenda Carrot believes the $1.3M project recently launched by the Centre will go a long way toward empowering vulnerable women in the country and opening unexplored employment options.
Carrot, along with the project manager for the European Union-funded project, Kareen Francis, were guests on the ABS TV morning programme yesterday as part of the Centre’s media blitz to sensitize the public and inform them about opportunities to be gained from applying to be part of the programme.
Carrot said while the Centre typically focusses on young men and women, they felt the need to include young vulnerable women in the programmes they offer.
“Lots of these young women, unfortunately, have not been able to complete their schooling… some of them, they just have up to third form education, if that much. So what we are doing is to target those young women by letting them realise there are opportunities out there for them to be more than they think possibly they can be,” she said.
She noted that income generation is the main thrust of the project, and as such it will offer vocational and entrepreneurial training so that unemployed or underemployed women can go out into the world of work and either seek employment or operate their own businesses.
“We are seeking to also try and steer these young women away from the traditional female roles,” Carrot said. “What we are saying to them is that if you look toward some of the more male dominated areas… in a lot of those areas ,we are stereotyped as either afraid, or don’t even think about them, or that they are bad.”
Francis said the Centre will be working with the Gender Affairs department to ensure there is also a good support system for the women.
“So when you feel as though the world is against you, you can come back to us at the GARD Centre, and through our collaboration with Gender Affairs, we will offer you that counseling, that avenue so you can say to yourself, you know what, there is somebody in my corner who is going to back me up on this,” she said.
The Centre will also feature lectures by women who have already broken into male-dominated work areas as part of its public awareness programmes.
“We will be looking at profiling a number of women who have broken those barriers and have gone into those areas so that they can tell their stories to the public, to those young women who may be scared, who may feel well that’s not for me,” Carrot said.
Other partners will include a number of government agencies and some of the credit unions.
Sign up for the programme is easy - the criteria being that the women are either unemployed or underemployed, and have limited education or not enough CXC subjects to get into the State College. The application process is currently underway at the GARD Centre.
The project manager noted that after training is done, there is already a database in place and people willing to offer support.
She added, “Hopefully, after the media blitz that we are doing, more people will join and say this is a very good idea that we are doing, and this is an area we are passionate about as well.”
Francis said while there is a lot of focus on young men and why they cannot get employment or avenues to explore, the same is true of women.
“When you think about it, there are some women who drop out of school because they got pregnant and now they have a child, and we as society have placed these barriers on them and tell them that they can’t get an education, and because you don’t have the education you can’t get a good job,” she said. “The GARD Centre wants to work with these women and let them know that life is not over, it has just begun.”
She urged women to “Step out of that box that society says you are supposed to only be a hairdresser, nail tech, or a secretary. You are supposed to be whatever it is you want to be. Like I said, you can a backhoe driver, an IT person... I’m sorry guys, but the ladies are going to come and take over your jobs.”