Violence against women and children should stop!

The Secretary General of the Caribbean Community, (CARICOM), Dr. Carla Barnett, is urging the member states in the region to make investments in the prevention of violence against women and girls, and in addition, to provide empowerment for marginalized communities by providing them with access to high-quality healthcare and education.

Dr. Carla Barnett called for this change in a statement given to nation states as they marked International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and Girls on Nov. 29, 2023. The CARICOM Secretary General said in marking the occasion it is a reminder that violence keeps women and girls from fully empowering themselves and exercising their basic rights.

She also announced that the United Nations has started the “UNITE by 2030” which is to campaign to end violence against women and girls to help eradicate the violence. The International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and Girls also runs concurrently with other significant observances that are marked in the CARICOM Secretariat allowing 16 days of activism,  including World AIDS day on Dec. 1, and Human Rights Day on Dec. 10.

The theme is also in line with the commission on the status of women 2024, priority theme, which is focused on “Accelerating the Achievement Equality and Empowerment of all women and girls by addressing poverty and strengthening institutions and financing with a gender perspective.”

The campaign calls on everyone including partners, civil society organizations, women’s organizations, youth, the private sector, and the media to join forces to address violence against women and girls. It also calls on governments worldwide to share how they are investing in gender-based violence prevention.

The Caribbean Community Secretary General further emphasized that violence against women and girls remain as one of the most pervasive forms of human rights violations in the world and cuts across all races, cultures, genders, and educational backgrounds. Despite the existence of regional and global policies and legislation to combat the violence, weak enforcement and discriminatory practices remain significant barriers to the violence against women and girls,” Dr. Barnett noted.

According to Dr. Barnett 736 million women worldwide — one in three have experienced intimate relationship abuse, non-partner sexual assault, or both at some point in their lives. The CARICOM secretary general said, “In the Caribbean, prevalence surveys conducted between 2016 and 2019 show that one in two women is affected by intimate partner violence, even higher than the global average.” She noted that violence against women and girls has been more prevalent over time and in a variety of contexts, including the COVID-19 pandemic, when women were compelled to take refuge in their homes with their abusers.

She recommended, “Everyone must continue to invest in preventing violence against our women and girls. It is an investment in our shared future. Allocating resources to prevention programs, education, and support services, is an essential step toward creating sustainable change.”  Barnett added, “By prioritizing prevention, we empower communities to break the cycle of violence and build societies that uphold the rights and well-being of every individual, especially our women and girls,” she commented.

Dr. Barnett is recommending that people wear orange during the 16 Days of Activism, “and on the 25th of each month as a symbol of hope for a brighter future where women and girls live free from violence.