UN rep. warns structural vulnerabilities could cause Bahamas to backslide on human development score

UN rep. warns structural vulnerabilities could cause Bahamas to backslide on human development score
United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Regional Advisor Kenroy Roach

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Regional Advisor Kenroy Roach yesterday warned concerted effort is required to address the structural inequalities, including the wage gap between men and women, to avoid the nation “sliding back”.

In an interview at the Office of the Prime Minister, Roach said for small island developing states such as The Bahamas it is important to view the improvement in the context of its resilience and vulnerabilities.

“While there is an increase and we indeed commend the government for some of the policies that have resulted in this increase, at the same time one of the key points of the report is that we need to be mindful that there is still a significant inequality in countries

“So, the increase is good, but you need to have a new set of public policies to address some of the structural challenges and the structural vulnerabilities, and the inequalities that countries we see all around the world. So, this 2019 report is putting a microscope on the importance of investing in social policies, social protection and looking at some of the hard inequalities that exist in society and coming up with the kind of economic social policies that are targeted toward those people who are furthest behind.”

The Bahamas global ranking on the United Nations Human Development report remained unchanged in the latest release for 2019, once again placing 60th of 189 countries.

In 2017, The Bahamas ranked 54th.

The annex of the 2019 HDR represents the 2018 valued HDI (human development index) of 0.805, which puts the country in a very high human development category.

The HDI is a summary measure of average achievement in the key dimensions of human development, including life expectancy at birth, expected years of schooling, mean years of schooling and GNI (gross national income) per capita.

The Bahamas’ HDI has steadily risen its HDI value since 2000 when it was 0.787.

UNDP Resident Representative Denise Antonio made a similar point, noting the improvement in human development sends the message the government is “headed in the right direction in terms of improving the lives of all citizens”.

Asked whether the rate of improvement in the human development index in The Bahamas was reasonable given the nation’s size and economic activity, Roach said when compared to other small developing states, The Bahamas’ improvement in recent years is commendable.

However, he insisted that unaddressed structural vulnerabilities could expose countries, including The Bahamas, to “sliding back”.

The UN report also revealed a 33 percent wage gap between men and women in The Bahamas.

The Bahamas’ gender equality index (GII) score remained the same over the period, but the income disparity increased by three percent.

Roach and Antonio said the UNDP will continue to work in partnership with the government to help it to achieve sustainable goals for the benefit of the people.

There was a nearly 30 percent income disparity between men and women in 2017.

The report does not indicate whether the data was pulled from both the private and public sector or solely the private sector for example.

The UN’s Human Development Report estimates gross national income per capita for men at $34,290, and $22,827 for women.

The average gross national income per capita was $28,395 — $5,568 more than what woman made per capita in 2018 —, according to the data.

Yesterday, Antonio said this is a challenge around the globe.

“Throughout the world we find right that with most countries there is a gap between the pay that females receive in comparison to males,” she said. “I think that has to be concerted effort by, of course the government first, and then the private sector to make sure that females are given the same opportunities as males.

“I think it is a work in progress, but we see it is not isolated to the Caribbean.

“It’s a global issue that is being faced.”