The government of The Bahamas’ decision to place some restrictions on the importation of masks at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in The Bahamas and instead offer those opportunities to Bahamians provided an economic stimulus for numerous households, Minister of Social Services and Urban Development Frankie A. Campbell said.
He said this to delegates participating in a recent UN Women, ParlAmericas, Bahamas, virtual high-level round table Meeting of parliamentarians of the English-speaking Caribbean.
The virtual meeting was facilitated in the precincts of the House of Assembly by House Speaker Halson Moultrie who served as host.
Delivering The Bahamas’ statement, Campbell told delegates that a positive outcome of the decision has been a growing cottage industry. Simply put, a cottage industry is a small business that is operated from home.
Campbell also took the opportunity to outline a number of the government’s initiatives in its gender-responsive actions in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic this year, and in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian in 2019, during his intervention.
“COVID-19 necessitated the wearing of masks to reduce the potential for community spread and so the government quickly thought it sensible to put some restrictions on the importation of masks which then created a cottage industry and we now find that many of our females in particular and many of whom are the leaders of their households, who would have otherwise been unemployed, are now generating incomes for themselves and their families via the production of, and sales of, masks locally,” Campbell said.
“As a follow-up, the government also took the opportunity to ensure that the Urban Renewal centers, which fall under the remit of the Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development, were provided with sewing machines in order to expand their sewing program to facilitate training for a larger number of persons wishing to enhance or develop their sewing skills in order to become entrepreneurs.
“The sewing program was initially geared towards school-aged children, but in light of what we are facing, we thought it wise to have the program expanded to include adults who can either be trained, and/or retrained to participate in, and benefit from, both socially and economically, the mask-making and other opportunities associated with the sewing industry.”