The wives of the leaders of Guyana, Belize, Jamaica, Haiti and Trinidad and Tobago began their two-day meeting on Thursday to identify challenges and discuss solutions on the way forward at their “Forum of the CARICOM’s Spouses of Heads of State and Government on the Every Caribbean Woman, Every Caribbean Child (ECWECC)” initiative.
Guyana’s First Lady, Mrs Sandra Granger told reporters that Thursday’s deliberations discussed some of the issues identified including ways to reduce teenage pregnancy, domestic violence, trafficking in persons (TIP) mother to child transmission of HIV/AIDS and cervical cancer, and addressing gender based inequalities.
Mrs. Granger explained that work has already started in Guyana, and the Ministries of Social Protection and Public Health are currently working with teen mothers, domestic violence and TIP victims, however more work needs to be done to better protect women.
She said that the initiative is being supported by several Caribbean First Ladies, but plans and discussions will be circulated to others to get all of them on board, in a tangible way.
“We are grateful for funding for the meeting which enabled participation of not only the First Ladies, but also consulting agencies like Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), Food and Agriculture Organisation for United Nations (FAO) among others, to come together to discuss the issues and develop strategies for moving forward in reducing the issues affecting our women and children,” she said.
Mrs Granger said the group is looking at the issues in a practical manner and working towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
Meanwhile, the First Lady of Belize, Mrs Kim Simplis-Barrow said she is mostly concerned about women having equal opportunities as men. The Belizean First Lady explained that women face many challenges on the job, including under payment and male supremacy.
“We are working towards seeing more options for women in the Caribbean…the idea is not to overthrow men, but to work hand in hand with them, and to sit at that decision table whether it be in a management room or to perform a surgery, they must have representation, and I believe it should be 50/50,” Mrs Simplis-Barrow said.
Mrs Simplis-Barrow, who is also a cancer survivor, is encouraging women to do breast self- examinations, live healthier lifestyles and wear their scars proudly.
She said she hoped that she was able to be an inspiration for women with cancer. She added that she also enjoys working with children with disabilities and protecting women from sexual and domestic abuse.
CARICOM leaders endorsed the ECWECC initiative at their summit here in 2016 and the report of the Forum will be presented to them at their inter-sessional meeting which ends on Friday.
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