“WHEN the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.”
Despite Caribbean females having the second highest rates of HIV in the world and the highest rate in the Americas, there are several gaps in existing research literature for young women’s risks for STIs/HIV, particularly in the OECS sub-region.
Similarly, the desire for anonymity and vast perceptions of confidentiality breaches among service providers remains a huge barrier for women accessing information and services in person.
The Sister2Sister Virtual Safe Space Programme emerged as a platform to address the existing reality of our Caribbean girls and women through the creation of virtual and physical safe spaces, which will attempt to fill the gaps by complementing existing sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services and initiatives which currently do not reach young women, particularly those who are marginalized and/or are part of vulnerable groups.
In that light, the Herstoire Collective has been awarded a grant, under the Safe Space and Service Access for Marginalized Youth in the OECS Programme, jointly funded by the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC) and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).
The grant is to implement the Sister 2 Sister Virtual Safe Space Programme — a virtual support group and safe-space platform for females aged 16-25 years old in Saint Lucia.
The goal is to create a truly integrated and inclusive space for all young women who visit and need it, to foster a local community and ecosystem where there is empathetic support, sharing of information and increased access to SRH resources, referrals, education and female empowerment practices.
The Sister2Sister Virtual Safe Space programme, which was launched yesterday at the Blue Coral Conference Room, will run until December 2018 and encompasses various components, (including but not limited to): anonymous, virtual group chats; an ongoing online forum where participants can seek expert advice on SRH issues; various blogs, videos and podcasts on pertinent SRH topics; and SRH-themed community meetings, talks and workshops.