The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Commission joins the international community in recognition of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence under the theme: “Orange the world: End violence against women now!”.
The annual campaign kicked off on 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and will run until 10 December, Human Rights Day. This period provides an opportunity to raise awareness on the prevention and elimination of violence, especially against women and girls.
Gender-based violence (GBV) has been defined by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women as ‘violence that is directed against a woman because she is a woman or that affects women disproportionately. It includes acts that inflict physical, mental or sexual harm or suffering, threats of such acts, coercion and other deprivations of liberty.’
The OECS Commission is supporting action against GBV through the implementation and review of internal policies. On November 3rd, 2021, the Director General signed the Commission’s updated Gender Policy. The OECSC 2021 Gender Policy promotes values that lead to the attainment of a culture of gender justice, mutual care, peace, harmony and lives free of violence among all individuals, irrespective of sex or gender, in the home, communities and institutions of the Member States of the OECS Economic Union. It recognises that, although OECS Member States and the Commission have employed robust policies and investments in key areas over the last fifty years, available data underscore that gender inequalities persist in the region, notably with respect to the level of risk of suffering from different forms of sexual and gender-based violence
Reports show that violence against women is pervasive in the Caribbean. The region has one of the highest rates of GBV in the world and three of the top ten recorded rape rates around the globe.
The OECS Commission therefore supports the Spotlight Initiative, which is a global, multi-year partnership between the European Union and the United Nations to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls by 2030.
With the Caribbean Regional Spotlight Initiative’s focus on ending Family Violence, calls to action for the OECS region include:
• Zero tolerance for Family Violence: Understanding that Family Violence (FV) is everyone’s business, given the heavy human and economic costs to individuals, communities, nations and the region, is key. Action begins in every home.
• Prevalence surveys: Commitments to undertake surveys on a consistent basis to obtain data on GBV is critical to enable regional data comparability, monitor trends and inform evidence-based policies and programmes.
• Legislation and policies: Eradicating VAWG requires the commitment and cooperation of all OECS Member States to adopt specialised and comprehensive legislation and policies. OECS Member States must redouble efforts to avail the necessary resources for implementation and enforcement of related laws.
• Prevention and response strategies: Equipping education actors, and parents with evidence-based standards and strategies, including referral pathways to support survivors, is essential to prevent and respond to VAWG
Media empowerment: The media have a key role to play as allies for gender equality and to end Family Violence and Violence against Women and Girls. By committing to ethical, gender aware and gender transformative content and portrayals of women and girls, the media can significantly influence social norms and beliefs