It appears that Gov. Charles Turnbull has now added women to the growing list of recent discoveries, like schools and highways, made as he approaches the end of his four-year term. The governor's supposed action to "reactivate" the Commission on the Status of Women at the end of his term is yet one more pre election flurry designed to create an impression of achievement after three and a half years of inactivity. To my mind, the governor is giving less than lip service by this action. The past actions of his administration tell the true story of lack of support and funding for organizations committed to preventing abuse of women and children.
I insisted that no one in the community forget the reluctant and minimal support given by this administration to organizations such as The Safety Zone, KidScope and the Family Resource Center that actively work on women's and family issues. The Labor Department had originally requested $46,100 in the 2003 Budget for activities of the Commission on the Status of Women, but the Governor decreased the request by 13 percent to the "highly-touted" $40,000 now being set aside. Not much can be done with $40,000, in terms of staffing, equipping and organizing activities to push a meaningful agenda. If the issues of women, children and families in our territory are so important, as I believe wholeheartedly that they are, why has the governor ignored this Commission for the last four years?
The governor should not toy with the Commission on the Status of Women as a political ploy. Its work is too important. As governor, I will concentrate on creating a private sector that generates economic opportunities for Virgin Islands families. A growing economy can become responsive to the work-family dynamic. We will then be able to support after-school and recreational programs designed to provide our children with positive alternatives and their parents with peace of mind. A message must be sent to Gov. Turnbull that re-establishing the Commission on Status of Women after three and a half years of neglect, nominating its members mere months before the election, and providing nominal funding is not the leadership our community needs.
John de Jongh
Candidate for Governor
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