The Caribbean Regional Spotlight Initiative Civil Society Regional Reference Group Gears for Action following its Inaugural Meeting

Date: Friday, June 18, 2021

Spotlight Initiative Logo

Civil Society engagement is at the heart of the Spotlight Initiative, a global, multi-year partnership between the European Union and the United Nations to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls by 2030. As part of rolling out the Caribbean Regional Spotlight Initiative Programme, a Civil Society Regional Reference Group (CS-RRG) has been established to facilitate and ensure the systematic and meaningful engagement of women’s rights groups and relevant civil society organisations, including those representing young women and groups facing intersecting forms of discrimination.

Following its inaugural meeting held virtually on 27 May 2021, the CS-RRG is gearing up for action and has begun the development of a roadmap for contributing to solutions around creating an enabling environment to prevent and respond to family violence in the Caribbean. The members of the CS-RRG serve in their individual capacities as well as unpaid volunteers. 

Terry Ince, Chair Civil Society Regional Reference Group
Terry Ince, Chair - Civil Society Regional Reference Group

Terry Ince, Chair – CS-RRG and a social entrepreneur and right activist said, “We believe that there is strength in diversity, and look forward to producing meaningful contributions towards sustainable change through the work of the Spotlight Initiative.  Through our remit as members of the Civil Society Regional Reference Group, we intend to utilise all available avenues of engagement: social media, print, performing and visual arts, to engage all stakeholders in a collaborative drive towards positive achievements.”

Quacy Grant, the first elected president of the Guyana National Youth Council is the Vice-chair and Kevin Liverpool, a development practitioner working with men and promoting positive masculinity, a champion for gender equality and Administrator of the Caribbean Male Action Network (CariMAN) is Third-Chair. 

The 16-member CS-RRG is an institutional mechanism established to harness civil society expertise. It carries  a triple responsibility as advisor to the Spotlight Initiative Regional Programme and as an advocate and partner to ensure the objectives of the Initiative are achieved as well as to hold the Initiative accountable.

UN Women Representative, Tonni Brodber
UN Women Representative, Tonni Brodber

“The Caribbean Regional Spotlight Initiative has a catalytic role to play in addressing Family violence, from strengthening our institutions, supporting civil society and enhancing our data, to prevent and effectively respond to family violence. The Civil Society Regional Reference Group will be an important partner in ensuring we will effectively make a difference in the lives of women and girls in the region. I am excited that the Group is in place and ready to assist with promoting gender equality through the elimination of violence against women and girls,” stated UN Women Representative, Tonni Brodber. 

The CS-RRG is made up of members of Civil Society organisations from Dominica, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guyana, Jamaica, Haiti, Trinidad & Tobago and adheres to the UN’s principle of ‘Leaving No One Behind’. The members are from diverse communities and serve diverse constituents, including survivors of violence against women girls, sexual and reproductive health and rights activists, leaders of indigenous groups, and LBTQI leaders, grassroots organizations, community-based organisations, networks and movements, and women activists. 

While the Regional Spotlight Initiative Programme will benefit all CARICOM Member States, it is complemented by six national Spotlight Initiative Programmes (Belize, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago) that have also established National Reference Groups. Six representatives from the national reference groups are members of the regional group to ensure coordination and coherence with engagement of Civil Society throughout the Programme. 

The Spotlight Initiative is the world’s largest targeted effort to end all forms of violence against women and girls and was launched with a seed funding commitment of €500 million from the European Union. It represents an unprecedented global effort to invest in gender equality as a precondition and driver for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Global Spotlight Initiative interventions focus on six programming pillars: Law and policy; Institutions; Prevention; Services; Data; and Women’s Movement. However, the Caribbean Regional programme focuses on four of the pillars, namely: Strengthening Regional Institutions; Prevention of Family Violence (FV); Data; and the Women’s Movement. Strengthening the women’s movement is critical because while women’s organisations are well networked across the Caribbean region, barriers to the inclusion and participation of grassroots groups needs to be addressed to ensure that marginalized populations can participate on equal terms and influence political decision-making and access resources, such as grants and training. Therefore, there is a need for capacity-building for grassroots organisations in the areas of advocacy, strategic planning, managerial, organizational, operational, budgeting, and monitoring and evaluation skills. The Spotlight initiative aims to close this gap.