Government of Canada Supports Efforts to Tackle Gender Based Violence and COVID-19 in Suriname

Date: Tuesday, July 14, 2020

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The Government of Canada through its “Enabling, Gender - Responsive Disaster Recovery, Climate and Environmental Resilience in the Caribbean (EnGenDER)” Project has committed USD 1,149,000 towards efforts to tackle Gender Based Violence (GBV) during the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis in 9 participating Caribbean countries including Suriname. This support is targeted to vulnerable groups (mostly women and children) who are more at risk of violence during the pandemic given physical isolation measures, restricted movement and increased economic pressure within the household and communities.  Co-funded by the Department for International Development (United Kingdom), EnGenDER is being implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with UN Women, World Food Programme (WFP) and the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA).

More broadly, EnGenDER is a key initiative that seeks to address the issue of climate change impacts particularly on vulnerable groups such as women, children, youth, persons living with disabilities, and indigenous and tribal populations. In light of this the Deputy Resident Representative (DRR) of UNDP Suriname, Dr. Margaret Jones Williamsemphasized the relevance of working with these vulnerable groups stating “It is therefore important that they be more engaged and included in the conversation on the environmental and climate challenges, the root causes and the solutions, with the aim of building resilience.”  Additionally, UNDP DRR notes that "Efforts to reduce GBV must be prioritized as we continue to focus on Leaving No One Behind in the development pathway, and SDG 5 is important in this dialogue."

This specific initiative, targeting Gender-Based Violence (GBV), recognizes the vulnerability of these populations as a result of the pandemic and works to support them to help achieve the project’s larger results.  Specifically, Canadian support will be used to develop public awareness/sensitization campaigns, promote community engagement to prevent GBV and to strengthen referral pathways required for effective service delivery. It will also support women victims of violence to seek help, while Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as masks, gloves, cleaning items, sanitizers etc. will be provided to the Disaster Management Office (NCCR) for distribution to quarantine facilities and officials who provide support to women. In addition, Tonni Ann Brodber, Head of Office (a.i) UN Women, MCO states: “COVID-19 has very specific impact on women’s livelihoods. COVID-19 has a shadow silent pandemic in intimate partner violence. While home is a place of refuge for many it can be a terrifying place for some. Violence against Women levels in Suriname were already high at 32 percent of ever-partnered women reporting at least one act of physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime. After continued consultation with National gender Machineries, UN Women proposed reprogramming to sustainable meet the needs identified by those who provide direct services to survivors. We are thankful that our partners were responsive and flexible to ensure that the programme adapted to meet the immediate needs identified by our partners.”

Similarly, Canadian Ambassador to Suriname, Ms. Lilian Chatterjee reiterated the importance of supporting at-risk populations during COVID, noting, “COVID-19 has brought new challenges and hurdles for the people of Suriname. Because of this crisis, some people are now trapped at home with their abusers which means higher rates of violence.  Working with authorities and other support services, EnGenDER seeks to stop this violence while supporting those people who have been victims of this violence.”