Non-Aligned Movement has stressed that violence against women and girls, including manifestations of extreme violence, continues to be a major obstacle to the achievement of gender equality and empowerment of women. NAM has reiterated its firm commitment to join efforts and continue combating all forms of violence against women.

Caribbean Community (CARICOM), most of its members also being NAM Member States, promotes and supports a unified Caribbean Community that is inclusive, resilient, competitive and sharing in economic, social and cultural prosperity. As part of this commitment, CARICOM continues to progress in achieving regional and international goals for the empowerment and advancement of women and girl.

In September 2020, CARICOM launched the Spotlight Initiative Regional Programme Caribbean. This program aims to strengthen the actions aimed at preventing and eliminating violence against women. According to a press release by the CARICOM Secretariat, the programme is so named as it is intended to bring focused attention to this issue, moving it into the spotlight and placing it at the centre of efforts to achieve gender equality and women’s empowerment, in keeping with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It is being implemented in partnership with the European Union (EU), the United Nations (UN) and other partners.

The project aims to enhance existing policies and programmes, replicate and share good practices, in an effort to sustainably address the challenges women and girls encounter in navigating national systems. The current public health crisis as a result of COVID-19, with attendant socio-economic impact, disproportionately affects women. These adverse effects include gender-based violence, undue burden of care, increased poverty, unemployment, underemployment and food insecurity. The program complements existing Spotlight country programmes in Grenada, Jamaica, Haiti, Trinidad and Tobago, and Guyana.

The CARICOM Secretariat and other regional organizations will play a significant role in the implementation of the regional Spotlight programme and, as such, the CARICOM Secretariat, represented by Deputy Secretary General Dr Manorma Soeknandan, has been named to co-chair the regional programme, with Mr. Didier Trebucq, UN Resident Coordinator, Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean.

The global Spotlight initiative is supported by an initial investment of Euros $500 million, with the European Union as the main contributor. Other UN agencies and partners have been invited to contribute to the Trust fund. With $50 million of the 500 million Euros to be spent in the Caribbean to eradicate family violence, six countries have already received Spotlight funding to carry out national programmes and projects over the next three years namely, Belize, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago. Complementing the Spotlight country programmes in these Member States, the regional Spotlight initiative titled “Strengthening Regional Cooperation to Prevent and Respond to Family Violence in the Caribbean” has a budget of US$11,360,711.

The programme will increase the capacity of regional institutions, women’s movements and civil society organisations, increase functional cooperation across the region, inform public policy, support evidence-based prevention programming, and foster greater accountability. It will also enhance the delivery of essential services for survivors and strengthen data collection and analysis.

The Initiative is aligned with the Caribbean Community’s Strategic Plan 2015-2019 as it seeks to ensure economic and social resilience in a unified Community where all people, especially women and girls with particular attention to the most vulnerable, can live lives free of violence to not only harness their full potential, but also enjoy the full complement of their human rights.

Dr Manorma Soeknandan, remarks about the significance of the program thus: “Spotlight is an exceptional, ground-breaking initiative, and a comprehensive programme that will span the next three years and should positively impact the lives of thousands of our Caribbean families. The Programme will complement the investments of Regional Institutions and contribute to the scale, sustainability, visibility and lessons learned, as it addresses specific regional challenges that inhibit progress including the prevention of and response to violence against women and girls.”

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