Global Affairs Canada, UN Agencies and Government of Saint Lucia launch the Build Back Equal Project (BBE) for vulnerable populations

Date:

11th May 2022, RODNEY BAY, St. Lucia – Women in St. Lucia will benefit from a social protection project, funded by Global Affairs Canada, that will boost women’s economic resilience by tackling the barriers that exacerbate their vulnerabilities to achieving economic empowerment. Co-led by UN Women and UNFPA, in partnership with the Government of St. Lucia, the Build Back Equal project was launched today at the Bay Gardens Inn to provide sustainable opportunities for women’s economic growth that will contribute to COVID-19 recovery.

The project will build on Saint Lucia’s commitment to gender equality by prioritising access to safe, accessible, and affordable childcare services, increasing women’s opportunities to pursue employment and build businesses and reinforce existing social protection measures. Build Back Equal follows on agreed conclusions from Commission on the Status of Women where there was keen focus on the economic and social fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic on small island developing states (SIDS) and their obligations to international treaties.

In delivering remarks, the St. Lucia Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Economic Development and the Youth Economy, the Honourable Philip J. Pierre welcomed the Build Back Equal project which would focus on the needs of women in the Eastern Caribbean by building on previous development programmes.

BBE Saint Lucia Launch - Hon. PM Philip J. Pierre
BBE Saint Lucia Launch - Hon. PM Philip J. Pierre

Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Economic Development and the Youth Economy, the Honourable Philip J. Pierre delivers remarks at the regional launch of the Build Back Equal Project – UN Women Photo/Bill Mortley

Honourable Pierre said: “The fact that we need to build back with the inclusion of the word equal, signified those inequalities existed before we needed to rebuild…This project was conceptualized and designed with a new approach to ensure that the weaknesses of past interventions are taken into account. It will also address the pressing social protection needs for marginalized women in four OECS countries in the aftermath of the COVID19 pandemic.”

Echoing the messaging behind the 2022 International Women’s Day theme “Gender Equality Today for a Sustainable Tomorrow”, High Commissioner of Canada in Barbados, Her Excellency Lilian Chatterjee, acknowledged the importance of women’s participation in accelerating St. Lucia’s national development.

The High Commissioner said: Today, we are proud to partner with UN Women and the United Nations Population Fund.  These are partners who understand the critical role played by women and girls as agents of change of shaping the futures of their societies. We now have an opportunity to do more than build back better from the COVID-19 pandemic, but to build back equal—to rebuild in a way that advances gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls in all their diversity.”

BBE Saint Lucia Launch - Guests of Honour
BBE Saint Lucia Launch - Guests of Honour

(L-R) Ms Ashley Crossley, First Secretary – Caribbean Regional Development Program, High Commission of Canada in Barbados; Ms Alison Drayton, Director and Representative, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Sub-Regional Office for the Caribbean; Honourable Shawn Edward, Minister for Youth Development and Sports; Honourable Dr Virginia Albert-Poyotte, Minister for the Public Service, Home Affairs, Labour and Gender Affairs, Ms Tonni Brodber, Representative, UN Women Multi Country Office -Caribbean; Dr. Carlene Radix, Head of Human and Social Division, OECS Commission; Ms Janey Joseph, Director – Gender Relations, Ministry of the Public Service, Labour and Gender Affairs, Saint Lucia – UN Women Photo/Bill Mortley

According to the pre-pandemic data, Gender Responsive and Multi-Dimensional Socio-Economic and Climate-Based Vulnerability Analysis of the Saint Lucia Survey of Living Conditions and Household Budgets 2016, poverty rates are higher in female-headed households (42.3%) and the share of poor children living in female-headed households increased from 48.6% in 2006, to 58.2% in 2016.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the devastating impact of recent natural hazards have revealed the disproportionate impact on women’s livelihoods through loss of employment in the hazard affected sectors like tourism and agriculture; the precarity of their employment as the majority in the informal sector; the increased responsibilities for child and elder care; the increased incidences of gender-based violence and reduced access to sexual and reproductive health services.

Building on extensive consultations with labour unions, government stakeholders, academia and the private sector in St. Lucia and existing local data, the Representative, UN Women Multi Country Office – Caribbean, Ms Tonni Brodber noted that women are up against an unprecedented set of challenges in the Caribbean, which demands urgent action to recovery from the impacts of the pandemic.

BBE Saint Lucia Launch - UN Women MCO Caribbean Rep. Tonni Brodber
BBE Saint Lucia Launch - UN Women MCO Caribbean Rep. Tonni Brodber

UN Women Multi Country Office- Caribbean Representative, Tonni Brodber – UN Women Photo/Bill Mortley

Ms Brodber said: “According to an ILO 2022 report, of the 23.6 million jobs for women globally that were lost at the worst moment of the crisis in the second quarter of 2020, at the end of 2021 some 4.2 million were still to be recovered. In the case of men on the other hand, the 26 million jobs lost at that time had already been almost completely recovered.”

Ms Brodber also added: “Some things bring us power and opportunity, others are sources of immense vulnerability and can rob us of our dignity. Your sex and the role you play in your family, community and country can be a source of both power and vulnerability. Unfortunately, historically it has unequally affected persons across race and sex.”

Director and Representative, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Sub-Regional Office for the Caribbean, Ms Alison Drayton highlighted that the project would address the needs of marginalised groups facing multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination and provide access to quality reproductive healthcare.
Ms Drayton said: “The first intermediate outcome is oriented to specifically address the identified sexual and reproductive health (SRH) supply and enabling environment that hinder universal access to SRH information and services. We aim to improve access to the services for women, girls and vulnerable groups, who are usually most at risk. The vulnerable groups include persons of diverse gender identity, gender expression and/or sexual orientation, persons living with disabilities and sex workers.  Our goal is to always ensure that no one is left behind.”

The Build Back Equal project will support Governments and the private sector in four Eastern Caribbean countries and has three main objectives:

  • Objective 1: Enhance women’s economic opportunities particularly in the tourism and agricultural sectors but across all areas.
    • skills training, including to build climate and shock resilient businesses
    • specific financing for women-owned small and medium sized enterprises,
  • Objective 2: Develop laws and policies and provide access to Gender and Shock Responsive Social Protection
    • introduction of legislation and policy to address unpaid care and
    • provide access to childcare services and ensuring protection;
  • Objective 3: Access to Sexual and Reproductive Health ((SRH) services including addressing GBV services to
    • ensure the availability of quality SRH services;
    • alignment of the gender-based violence referral pathway with social protection including the provision of temporary housing, cash transfers.

St. Lucia is the first country in the Eastern Caribbean to launch the Build Back Equal project with three other countries - Dominica, Grenada and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines - set to launch country programmes in June.

BBE Saint Lucia Launch - Additional Guests of Honour
BBE Saint Lucia Launch - Additional Guests of Honour

(L-R) Gayle Gollop, National Private Sector Specialist, UN Women Multi Country Office - Caribbean; Sheryl-Ann Thomas-Scott, Communications Analyst, UN Women MCO- Caribbean; Aurora Noguera-Ramkissoon, Liaison Officer, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Sub-Regional Office for the Caribbean; Ms Alison Drayton, Director and Representative, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Sub-Regional Office for the Caribbean; Honourable Shawn Edward, Minister for Youth Development and Sports; Honourable Dr Virginia Albert-Poyotte, Minister for the Public Service, Home Affairs, Labour and Gender Affairs, Ms Tonni Brodber, Representative, UN Women Multi Country Office -Caribbean; Isiuwa Iyahen, Deputy Representative, UN Women MCO-Caribbean– UN Women Photo/Bill Mortley

 

-ENDS-

For further information, please contact:

UN Women Multi Country Office - Caribbean
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