Statement on Gender Based Violence (GBV) and 2021 Spotlight Work Plan

Date: Friday, April 23, 2021

UN Resident Coordinator, Dr. Garry Conille


April 16, 2021, KINGSTON - The Spotlight Initiative has approved a 2021 work plan aimed at addressing the scourge of family and gender-based violence (GBV) in Jamaica and operationalizing the goals and objectives outlined in Jamaica’s National Strategic Action Plan to Address Gender Based Violence.

The Programme is being implemented at a time of widespread crime and violence against women and girls continue to affect families and communities and hinder progress towards the SDGs. Around the world, there is a 30 per cent increase in reports of violence against women in some countries. In Jamaica, more than 700 new cases were reported to the Victim Support Unit in March and April (2020) alone when compared to previous months.

The 2021 work plan will allow the Spotlight partnership to work more closely with government and civil society, to strengthen legislation; improve services; and empower men, women and children to address harmful gender norms that often encourage violence as an acceptable way of solving problems. The work plan was approved at the Spotlight Initiative National Steering Committee meeting on April 14. This year, The Spotlight Initiative will, among other things, focus on the training of nurses, police officers, justice system personnel and other frontline workers in understanding GBV; expanding domestic violence intervention centres attached to police stations across the island; strengthening local coordination networks that support survivors of violence and abuse; supporting the establishment of national shelters for survivors of GBV and their dependents; and educating parents and men to explore beliefs and attitudes towards gender-based violence.

In his remarks to Spotlight stakeholders, The United Nations Resident Coordinator condemned the spate of crime and violence and committed UN’s support to fighting GBV.

“All leaders in government, institutions, private sector and every well-thinking Jamaican must speak loudly and act firmly against gender-based violence in all its forms, wherever it occurs and regardless of the perpetrators. Gender-based violence is a violation of the right to life, a violation of the right to freedom from torture and degrading treatment, a violation of the right to freedom from discrimination and the right to safety and security, Dr. Conille said.

He added, “the widespread and seemingly normalized acts of violence is a significant disregard for human right, and presents a social, economic, and public health emergency of which all Jamaicans should be concerned.”

“This year’s work plan for the Spotlight Initiative, we hope, will ensure that our signature interventions tackling family violence and violence against women and girls are fit for purpose and are responsive to today’s crises,” Dr. Conille said.

Ambassador Marianne Van Steen, EU Delegation to Jamaica in condemning the high levels of gender-based violence in the country said, “Violence against women and girls is not just a tragedy for the victims, it’s a monumental failure for the societies where it occurs. Gender based violence is also a major obstacle to achieving equality between women and men, a prerequisite for achieving thriving democracies, successful economies and the Sustainable Development Goals.”

She added, “the consequence of impunity and silence on this matter is too high a price to pay and sadly, too many women have already paid that price. For the sake of their families and loved ones, let us go beyond condemnation to action. The Global Spotlight Initiative is one of the ways that the EU is responding to end this scourge.”

Professor Opal Palmer Adisa, Chair of Spotlight’s National Civil Society Reference Group, noted that “Each of us has a right to be outraged at gender-based violence, and to recognize that change of this nature requires deep thought, collaboration and an honest look at the root causes of the problem,” Palmer Adisa said.

Recognizing the challenges, Minister Grange in her statements shared, “the objectives of the Spotlight programme must be sustained, and its efforts will have to be bolstered in meaningful ways.”

Minister Grange has since shared information on the legislative agenda including upcoming amendments in support of reducing GBV.

“The Spotlight Initiative will positively contribute to gender equality, social inclusion and protection of human rights which are effective stimulants to poverty reduction and sustainable development,” Minister Olivia Grange, said.

The Spotlight Initiative exists as part of a targeted, multi-stakeholder and an all-of -society approach to ending family violence and gender-based violence in all its forms. The multiyear programme, launched in 2020 is implemented by the United Nations, Government of Jamaica and civil society with funding of over $10M USD from the European Union. A reflection of the implementation and expenditure of Jamaica’s Spotlight programme is available here.