The all-pervasive problem of gender-based violence and its alarming increase continues to be the concern of in Latin America and the Caribbean.
But there is another problem that has to be addressed. Namely the involvement of women in gangs.
A recent study done showed that 40% of gang members in Trinidad are women. The problem of women in gangs is not limited to Trinidad.
So says Yasmin Solitahe Odlum of the Inter American commission of women (CIM) Organization of American States (OAS) during an address to Caribbean journalists attending a reporting tour on women's empowerment and combating domestic violence in Washington DC.
Women in gangs are said to act as drug couriers, they hide weapons, they are intelligence gatherers and lures.
Though some females join gangs for friendship, security and self-affirmation recent research show that economic and family pressures motivate most young women to join gangs.
She added that they also live in situations of violence such as rape and incest.
High rates of crime and violence in the Caribbean are undermining growth, threatening human welfare, and impeding social development. That’s according to to a report by the World Bank and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
The ‘Crime, Violence and Development : Trends, costs and Policy Options in the Caribbean,’ clearly shows that crime and violence are development issues.
She underscored the point that Caribbean governments have to deal with a plethora of issues which threatens to overwhelm them and does not have the capacity to deal with gangs.
The issues facing the Caribbean transcend national boundaries and require a coordinated regional and international response.
Although there is no one “ideal” approach for crime and violence prevention, she explained that empowering women, helping them to gain economic security
According to a UN report women’s labour force participation in Latin America and Caribbean is 53 percent, but in common with all regions, the gender pay gap means that in some countries women are paid up to 40 percent less than men.
She pointed to the need for women to be better paid and the need to implement strong policies to address gender issues.