As the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) joins the world in observing the beginning of 16 Days of Activism Campaign Against Gender-Based Violence, on November 25, Secretary-General Dr. Carla Barnett is calling for comprehensive and inclusive policy approaches in addressing all forms of violence against girls and women.
In a message to mark the international observance, Dr. Barnett urged the people of the CARICOM to join in solidarity with the United Nations (UN) in playing a part to “Orange the World and End Violence against Women now,” as she underscored the theme of this year’s observance.
The promotion of the colour orange in this year’s observance symbolizes a “brighter future for women and girls,” and calls for a coalescing of minds to ensure that one day, women and girls will live free of violence, the SG said.
Highlighting the pervasiveness of violence against women, Dr. Barnet pointed to data which states that one in three women has experienced physical and or sexual violence at some point in her lifetime, usually from an intimate partner. She also referenced data on Caribbean Region from five CARICOM Member States which indicate incidence rates as high as one in every two women.
“This year’s observance highlights the disproportionate impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had and continues to have on women,” the Secretary-General stated, adding that the pandemic has resulted in the rapid escalation of all forms of violence against women and girls to which the world was unprepared to respond.
COVID-19 also laid bare, she said, inequalities that pose greater risks for violence including food insecurity, unemployment, undue burden of paid and unpaid care work, and increased migration flows…”
Using her statement to highlight the plight facing adolescent girls, she said they faced increasing risk for sexual exploitation with loss of household income and school closures.
“The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) maintains that globally 1 in 4 women was a child bride. UN Women reminds us that the economic fallout is expected to push 47 million more women and girls in Latin America and the Caribbean into extreme poverty in 2021, thereby reversing decades of hard-fought progress in our Region,” Dr Barnett said, underlining the severity of the crisis facing women and girls.
Against that backdrop she applauded women’s rights organisations, including civil society groups that have responded to the vulnerabilities facing women and girls, which the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated.
Those groups, she added, have been at the vanguard in providing early warning throughout the pandemic, and in making efforts to integrate into COVID-19 response plans, services for at-risk women and girls.
Secretary-General Barnett lauded the European Union (EU)-United Nations (UN) Spotlight Initiative for making significant progress in preventing and eliminating violence against women and girls, noting recent successes it achieved in capacity-building interventions targeting positive masculinity in men and boys.