Gender-based violence could stymie Caribbean development, unless the region’s “very persistent” problem is not tackled urgently, a leading charity official said Friday.
“Unless we make some in-roads into this problem in the region, I fear that Caribbean women, and girls in particular, will continue to be restricted in their ability to reach their full potential. And if Caribbean women and girls don’t reach their full potential then the Caribbean can’t reach its full potential. Gender-based violence inhibits empowerment,” Chief Project Manager with the Maria Holder Memorial Trust Jane Armstrong said as a training programme on gender-based violence prevention was launched Friday.
The Foundations programme, which was developed by the UN Women Multi-Country Office (MCO) Caribbean, with the support of the Maria Holder Memorial Trust, is an effort to respond to increasing calls for the development and scaling up of gender-based violence prevention programmes for young people.
Based on a recent assessment by the Trust in a number of Eastern Caribbean islands, the key concern and issues for individuals were the challenges facing youth, Armstrong told a small gathering at the Pedagogical Centre of the Errol Barrow Centre for Creative Imagination.
“Many feel that the youth in these countries are in crisis. It is unemployment, poverty and violence being the main problems identified and of course gender-based violence is a big part of that,” she said.
The Foundations programme deals with the safety and well-being of women and families and the future development of the youth, she said, adding that she hoped it would have a major positive impact.
One in four Caribbean women would experience some form of domestic violence, according to UN statistics. UN Women reported that data from 16 countries showed that in Latin America and the Caribbean a total of 2,554 women died at the hands of spouses and partners last year.
It was out of concern about the prevalence of gender-based violence that the Foundations programme was launched, Armstrong said.
The programme aims to provide facilitators with learning strategies for working with young people “in gender-sensitive ways, knowledge and skills in gender analysis, and facilitation skills and efforts”, said UN Women MCO Caribbean Representative Alison McLean.
A pilot was launched in Antigua and Barbuda and later introduced in Trinidad and Tobago where over 30 facilitators have been trained.
The programme is to be rolled out in Barbados by next year, following ongoing discussions with various government and non-governmental organisations.
McLean said it was important that a “tool kit” was provided for individuals in various organizations to help fight the scourge of gender-based violence.
The Foundations programme consists of a curriculum designed for young people in the region; a facilitators’ manual to help gender advocates; an operational manual and procedural guidelines; and a monitoring and evaluation framework.
There are 12 modules under the Foundations programme, which covers a number of areas including understanding emotions, discrimination and gender-based violence, human rights, understanding cultural influences, reproductive health and sexuality, family history and values.
McLean said it was the hope of the UN Women MCO Caribbean to get the programme in schools across the region.
“It draws on international best practice and is quite advanced,” she said, adding that training was very hands-on, interactive and lasted over five days.