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LIVITY Project: Inclusion an Essential Development Tool

The inclusion of all citizens – regardless of disability, age, sexuality, or gender identity— is an “essential investment” in the sustainable development of the Caribbean.

Ambassador MaƂgorzata Wasilewska, Head of Delegation of The European Union to Barbados, The Eastern Caribbean States, OECS and CARICOM/CARIFORUM, made this point while delivering remarks at the LIVITY Project’s launch of its Teach-in Video on Economic Empowerment for Marginalised Communities. The event was held on Thursday, February 28, 2021 via Zoom.

A teach-in video is a conversational-style video which focusses on a topical issue. This is the second such video created under the LIVITY Project, which began in 2018. The LIVITY Project is helmed by the Institute for Gender and Development Studies: Nita Barrow Unit, in collaboration with the Barbados Council for the Disabled and the Eastern Caribbean Alliance for Diversity and Equality (ECADE). It is funded by the European Union.

“[The] inclusion of persons with disabilities or LGBTI citizens is not only a matter of social justice and the realisation of universal human rights; it is an essential investment in the future of society. What’s more, equality is also critical to sustainable development. This is even truer at this critical juncture, when economic recovery from the damage caused by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic is dependent on the contribution of all citizens in regaining economic stability, and where marginalised groups are more vulnerable to the ramifications of fiscal shortfalls as well as stabilisation efforts.”

In addition, the Ambassador noted the high economic costs social exclusion and discrimination can incur, due to a range of issues, such as time lost in education and employment due to homophobic bullying, inaccessible buildings, transportation, and communications systems.

“Simply put, costs are always incurred whenever any group is treated lesser than the other… Whether it is [Persons living with Disabilities, LGBTQI citizens, the elderly, under-served women or any other marginalised group: They are not heroes, and they are not victims. They are agents of their own destiny, seeking a place to participate in society on equal terms.”

Ambassador Wasilewska emphasized that while legislation and policymaking can support societal change, there must also be changes at the individual level.

“Often it will require changing social systems, support structures and attitudes – and investing resources over time to make that happen,” she stated.

The online event discussed the economic challenges and opportunities faced by Persons living with Disabilities and the LGBTQ community in the Caribbean, particularly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The panellists were: Lionel Smith, President of the Barbados Horizon Deaf Charity; Kimberly Puckering, Member of the Barbados Horizon Deaf Charity; Kenita Placide, Executive Director of ECADE; Fabianna Alexander, Programme Director of Aspire Foundation Barbados Inc. and Karen Philip, Project Consultant - Capacity Building at the Caribbean Policy Development Centre.

Institute for Gender & Development Studies
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