Coverage: Executive Director in the Caribbean
UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka is in the Caribbean region for the first time this week, making stops in Barbados, followed by Jamaica. A key emphasis of the Executive Director’s visit will be on the importance of human security and safety of women and girls in the region.
To begin her second day in Jamaica, the Executive Director attended a celebratory walk at the famed Emancipation Park in Kingston Jamaica to celebrate the Jamaican Government’s recent Ratification of ILO C189 on Decent Work. The walk was organized by the Jamaican Household Workers Union.
On Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka's first day in Jamaica, she met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, and participated in a town hall on women’s leadership, economic empowerment, sustainable development and gender equality.
In a meeting with Jamaica's Minister of Culture, Gender Affairs, Entertainment and Sport, Honourable Olivia Grange, the Executive Director commended the Government of Jamaica for passing progressive laws. UN Women is looking forward to assisting the Government in the implementation of these laws.
“We also want to start a conversation about women’s economic empowerment, so that we can identify areas of collaboration and support,” the Executive Director said.
"The Government of Jamaica is committed and this partnership will ensure that we can achieve the objectives of UN Women. Economic empowerment of women is a critical area, and we are going to work towards achieving this goal," Ms. Grange said.
The Executive Director also attended a lunch with representatives of civil society and government partners. Tamika Williams, author, entrepreneur and survivor of gender-based violence presented Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka with a copy of her book during the event.
In the afternoon, Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka participated in a town hall on women's leadership, economic empowerment, sustainable development and gender equality at the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus. The discussion was moderated by Professor Verene Shepherd, head of the Regional Institute for Gender and Development Studies of the University of the West Indies.
On her first day in Barbados, the Executive Director attended a roundtable discussion on “Partnerships for Gender Equality”, co-hosted by UN Women, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Caribbean Development Bank.
In October 2015, the CARICOM Standing Committee of Caribbean Statisticians had endorsed the CARICOM Gender Equality Indicators Model, which was developed in partnership with UN Women, and in consultation with the other development partners. The partnership initiative will develop a set of indicators to monitor the gender equality commitments in the Sustainable Development Goals, and as per the UN Global Set of Minimum Gender Indicators, identify, assess, measure and track the persistent gender equality concerns and disparities across the Caribbean region.
In her meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Barbados, Senator Maxine McClean, the Executive Director commended Barbados in its influential role in the CARICOM region in ensuring that gender equality gains are not lost. She also congratulated the Government for amending the Domestic Violence Act, in order to address gaps in the legislation and to strengthen the recourse of the police and courts to protect survivors.
Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka also participated in a consultative session with judicial officials of the Supreme Court of Barbados on the development of a draft Gender Equality Protocol for Magistrates and Judges, led by the Chief Justice of Barbados, Sir Justice Marston Gibbs. Caribbean Court of Justice and representatives from the High Commission of Canada and the Director of the JURIST Project also participated in the meeting. The proposed Gender Equality Protocol will assist judges and magistrates to adjudicate cases with a gender lens, and build their capacities to identify and address the social, economic and cultural circumstances that perpetuate gender-related human rights violations.
On the evening of 31 October, the Executive Director participated in a cultural event where several Caribbean artists performed in support of UN Women’s call for action, “Step It Up for Gender Equality”. Through song and poetry, renowned Barbadian artists, Michael (Mikey) Mercer, Terencia (TC) Coward and Adisa (AJA) called for action to end violence against women and girls and emphasized on the value of women’s equal participation in the development of the region.
The evening’s performances marked the climax of the Executive Director’s first official visit to Barbados. Addressing an audience of Ministers, members of the judiciary, academia, development partners, artists and civil society partners, Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said, “We want to diversify the voices as much as we can because this issue is complex, [there] is not a simple answer. We need a comprehensive response.”
Since 2010, 45 leading musicians across the Caribbean have been trained as spokespersons for the UN Secretary-General’s campaign, UNiTE to End Violence against Women, under the coordination of UN Women. Today, they are powerful advocates for ending violence against women and girls in the region.