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Theories of State

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Introduction

The Struggle for Women’s Political Participation in the Caribbean
Cynthia Barrow-Giles

At a time when the world seems to be moving towards more democratic forms of government, and when the issue of gender equality is receiving more attention than ever before, the participation of women in national-level politics, measured in percentage terms, is actually in decline.1

The historical political under-representation of women has led to a number of international and regional declarations with the expressed intent of improving women’s participation in politics. The Beijing Platform for Action of
1995, for instance, calls upon governments to take measures to ensure women’s equal access and full participation in the decision-making process. Similarly, at the Fourth Caribbean
Ministerial Conference on Women, which was held in Kingstown, St Vincent and the
Grenadines in 2004, governments agreed to undertake measures to strengthen the process towards the attainment of gender equality, social justice and development. Governments of the Caribbean Community thus agreed to focus on women, the economy and poverty, reproductive health and the strengthening of institutional mechanisms.
The Millennium Declaration of 2001 also commits member states to the promotion of gender equality and empowerment of women

by 2015. It is recognized that gender equality and women’s empowerment are central to the achievement of the Millennium Development
Goals. The United Nations (UN) also contends that the failure to achieve this would compromise the possibility of achieving the other seven major goals as outlined under the 2001 Declaration.

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