The Covid-19 Pandemic has brought many challenges to the doorsteps of many developing countries like St. Lucia. While the health challenges experienced are widely known, increases in the incidence and severity of Gender-Based Violence lurks under the radar.
As a response measure, the UNFPA assisted six Caribbean countries, including St. Lucia, to develop and strengthen Gender-Based Violence referral Pathways to ensure that survivors have access to professional service delivery, accurate and up-to-date information and timely referrals in and out of emergencies.
Director of Gender Relations Janey Joseph says the Referral Pathways, launched virtually last week, will strengthen the strategies already adopted to combat Gender-Based Violence on the island.
The accomplishment of GBV Referral Pathways follows intensive work done on the island, in collaboration with the UNFPA, in mapping Gender-Based Violence Services among twenty-seven service provider agencies across seven service sectors in Saint Lucia including health, mental health and psycho-social support, shelter, child protection, security, protection against sexual exploitation and abuse and holistic GBV support including case management.
Permanent Secretary in the Department of Education, Innovation and Gender Relations Michelle Charles says the Services Mapping will be monitored and updated as needed, and the changes will be reflected as well in the pathway.
UNFPA representative Denise Blackstock says the organization truly appreciates the longstanding partnership with all stakeholders in developing the referral pathways for the island and reassured the Gender Relations Department and supportive agencies of the commitment of the UNFPA to the plight of victims of Gender-Based Violence.
The Gender-Based Violence Referral Pathways includes a training component in the use of the tool by GBV Focal Points and Case Workers. The goal is for the tool to be utilized by response agencies in Saint Lucia as of August 1, 2021.