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Caribbean First Ladies Launch New Initiative To Tackle Issues Affecting Women And Children

Some of the First Ladies and spouses of Caribbean leaders who attended the launch. Photo credit: Knight & Day Photography.

Caribbean First Ladies Launch New Initiative To Tackle Issues Affecting Women And Children

BELMOPAN, Belize, September 6, 2017 (CMC) – The wives of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders and heads of state have launched a network, aimed at tackling issues related to health and well-being of women, adolescents and children in the 15-member grouping.

They have described the “Spouses of Caribbean Leaders Action Network (SCLAN)” as advocacy and action platform to advance the “Every Caribbean Women Every Caribbean Child (ECWECC) initiative, now re-titled Caribbean Woman Caribbean Child (CariWaC)”

The Special Envoy for Women and Children in Belize, Kim Simplis Barrow, the wife of Belize Prime Minister, Dean Barrow, has been elected as the first Chair of the Network, while Sandra Granger, First Lady of Guyana, was elected its Vice Chair.

The other members of the executive are Reema Carmona of Trinidad and Tobago, Martine Moise of Haiti and Juliet Holness of Jamaica.

The two-day meeting here was also attended by Maria Browne of Antigua & Barbuda and Sybilene Patricia Minnis of the Bahamas.

“SCLAN will champion the CariWaC Initiative, which has identified four major pillars for action: reducing gender-based violence, reducing adolescent pregnancy, eliminating cervical cancer, and eliminating mother to child transmission of HIV and congenital syphilis.

“While focusing on these four areas, SCLAN will allow the flexibility for First Ladies and spouses to focus on other areas of national concern and priority,” according to a statement, issued here, following the meeting.

In her address to the conference Barrow made reference to the “unique position” of the wives and First Ladies of the regional leaders to advance the initiative.

“We will be able to foster greater synergies as we champion action to achieve the goals and objectives of CariWaC,” she said.

“We have the unique opportunity to become catalysts for change, leverage networks and influence the decision-making process at the highest level of government,” she added.

According to Barrow, the First Ladies have agreed that SCLAN’s “first order of business” is to bring the other CARICOM spouses on board.

The launch of the network is a culmination of two years of engagement and dialogue, in relation to the CariWaC initiative, which has been endorsed by CARICOM leaders.

The concept for a Caribbean response to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon’s Every Woman Every Child global initiative (2010) was introduced by the then UN Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean, Dr. Edward Greene (2015).

Since its inception, CariWaC has continued to receive support from CARICOM, UNFPA and other UN agencies. A strong partnership has been forged with Gilead Sciences Inc. in advancing this initiative.

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