Barbados was this week hailed for being a valuable asset throughout its 50-year membership of the United Nations, and congratulated for leading the fight for the well-being of young girls.
The accolades came as the world celebrated UN Day on Monday, when UN Population Fund (UNFPA) Barbados Liaison Officer De-Jane Gibbons commended the island for being in line with goals for development of girls, while the Resident Coordinator, Stephen O’Malley, recalled the five decades of membership.
Led by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, members of government and non-governmental organizations gathered yesterday at UN House in Hastings, where an exhibition was launched to commemorate the jubilee year, showcasing Barbados’ participation in the world body and the work of the organization’s various agencies.
“We congratulate the Government of Barbados for its notable progress in implementing policies and programmes that seek to ensure that human rights are universal and thus enjoyed by all, including young girls,” said Gibbons, who explained that worldwide, girls “face obstacles to their rights to education, health and freedom from violence, including sexual violence”.
The UN liaison officer applauded Barbados as she announced the launch of the UNFPA State of the World Population Report, 2016.
The focus of the annual report is on the welfare of ten-year-old girls around the world.
“Ten is a pivotal age for girls everywhere, as puberty approaches. In some parts of the world, a girl at this age enjoys limitless possibilities and begins making choices that will influence her education and, later, her work life. But in other parts, a girl who goes through puberty is suddenly seen as a commodity that may be bought, sold or traded,” Gibbons said.
She added that despite the good work of states such as Barbados, there is much more to do to ensure proper raising of these juveniles, noting that the just released report speaks to governments’ challenge in scaling efforts to reach more girls, especially the poorest and most vulnerable, by age ten.
Gibbons urged governments everywhere to “invest in girls in ways that empower them to make important life decisions and equip them to one day earn a living, engage in the affairs of their communities, and be on an equal footing with their male counterparts”.
O’Malley said the UN has always valued the support it received from Barbados for the multilateral system and the UN’s work in the Eastern Caribbean.
He said that in its 50 years of membership of the world body, this island has been consistent in its contributions.
“Barbados joined the UN on December 7, 1966, barely a week after becoming independent. Since that time, Barbados has made immense contributions to the working of the United Nations through such elements as the Barbados Plan of Action, which came out of the first SIDS conference held here in Barbados in 1994,” O’Malley said.