UNiTE Caribbean Actions
Across the Caribbean, the UN system has sought to build knowledge, partnerships and capacities which address the persistence of gender inequality and violence against women. In this regard, the UN system in the Caribbean through UN Women’s leadership has collaborated with civil society, faith-based organisations and leading regional artistes to develop a relevant body of knowledge on strategies to interact with informal justice systems to promote women’s human rights and end violence against women.
Specifically, the Caribbean response to the UNiTE Campaign is based on a strategy devised at a regional consultation held in 2009, which focussed on four areas: Strengthening State Accountability with an emphasis on law reform and strengthening capacity for implementation of existing legislation; Building Political Will; Engaging men as partners and agents of change and Development of a social communications strategy.
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The UNiTE Campaign was launched in the Caribbean in October 2010. This high-Level Meeting of over 75 participants including Attorneys-General, Judges, Heads of National women’s machineries, CSOs and NGOs and other relevant stakeholders convened by the UN system in the Caribbean under the leadership of the Caribbean RCs, had as its objectives: to launch the UN S.G’s Campaign: UNiTE to End Violence against Women; to deepen understanding on the causes, consequences and responses to gender-based violence in the Caribbean and to a consensus on law reform. A major output was the Caribbean UNiTE Consensus which provided a strong roadmap for programming response to end VAW.
In Jamaica, Regional Parliamentarians from 17 Caribbean territories were brought together in an initiative aimed at “Building Political Will to End Gender-Based Violence” in November 2011. Coordinated by the Jamaica-based United Nations Population Fund Caribbean Sub Regional Office (UNFPA), the Regional Consultation of Parliamentarians two-day meeting supported the UNiTE campaign targetted Outcome 1 - the adoption and enforcement of national laws to address and punish all forms of violence against women and girls and Outcome 3 - strengthening data collection on the prevalence of violence against women and girls and paragraph 22 of the UNiTE Caribbean Consensus Document, which calls upon national parliamentarians to join in the leadership of the Campaign.
During the meeting, all the male Parliamentarians stood together as one to declare their commitment to work to end violence against women and girls. Member of Parliament of Curacao, Senator Gilmar S. Pisas, presenting a country report on Curacao’s response to relational violence, moved the resolution. The action complements one of the identified actions of the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon’s UNiTE Campaign’s stated objectives of engaging men as partners in the work to end the scourge of violence against women and girls.
In November 2012, the UNiTE Regional Conference on Child Sexual Abuse was held in Barbados, resulting in the Bridgetown Declaration. The Declaration calls for action from the legislative dimensions, strengthening of services, preventative actions to a mobilization of society across the Caribbean. Key Ministers and other major stakeholders endorsed this multi-faceted action plan to systematically address Child Sexual Abuse.
The Government of Barbados and UN Caribbean offices hosted the conference, which was also being supported by the British High Commission in Bridgetown and the United States Embassy for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean. The conference brought together ministers with responsibility for child protection, along with experts in child protection, law, policy reform, health and other sectors to identify coordinated responses to the problem. Delegations came from Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Montserrat, Saint Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, the Turks and Caicos Islands, and the British Virgin Islands.
Caribbean Artistes supporting the UNiTE Campaign: from left – Nelly Stharre (Dominica), Destra (Trinidad and Tobago), Mikey (Barbados), David Rudder (Trinidad and Tobago). Forty-five leading artistes from across the Caribbean have been trained as spokespersons for the UNiTE campaign as part of the social communications strategy. This has come about as a result of workshops organised by UN Women to sensitise the artistes about the causes and consequences of Violence Against Women and the objectives of the Secretary General’s campaign. They were made aware of the Caribbean context of incidences of VAW where all Caribbean territories have averages higher than the global average for rape. Three territories – Jamaica, the Bahamas and St. Vincent are in the top 10 countries of incidences of rape. In addition the sensitisation helped the artists to reflect on the impact of popular culture reinforcing pre-existing norms and how they as powerful spokespersons could use their talents, voices and other tools to speak out against VAW and create change. More