16 facilitators trained to tackle HIV and violence against women and girls  

-as EU/UN Spotlight Initiative supports Foundations Programme Training of Trainers Course

“We know that domestic violence is very rampant in our society and based on the job that I do where I interact a lot with parents, teachers and members of the community, this training has given me the opportunity to be able to serve well in my capacity.” These are the words of Nadia Hollingsworth, National Coordinator for the Parent Teachers Associations in the Ministry of Education. Ms Hollingsworth is one of 16 facilitators who just completed the Training of Trainers component of the Foundations Programme: Strengthening Prevention Approaches To Address Gender-Based Violence In the Caribbean’.  

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“As an officer who would visit countrywide, going into some of those communities where we know that domestic violence is a hindrance to progress, I am glad that this training will help me in helping others to eliminate violence,” added Ms Hollingsworth, who was at the time speaking after a graduation ceremony held on February 4, 2022.

Led by the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security and UN Women, the programme forms part of the activities organized under the Spotlight Initiative, whichis funded by the  European Union (EU), and implemented by the United Nations through the Government, and CSOs in Guyana to implement solutions to accelerate action towards eliminating Gender-Based Violence (GBV), specifically violence against women and girls within the context of family violence.

The trainers, who are representatives from Government agencies, Community and Faith-Based Organizations, participated in workshops to deepen their understanding of gender constructs and pervasive cultural norms that perpetuates inequalities; and focused on strengthening the prevention approaches employed to address Gender-Based Violence (GBV) and HIV discrimination. Though the participants possessed conceptual knowledge of GBV with backgrounds in sexual and reproductive health, human rights advocacy or work with marginalized communities, or already worked with victims/survivors of GBV, the workshops provided specialized training to implement the 12-week psychoeducational programme at a community level.

“The course focused on challenges that exist around young people and sought to address how boys and girls are socialized and, based on this socialization, how the issue of violence continues to have its influence on our society,” noted Adel Lily, Director of the Gender Affairs Bureau and another participant of the course. “ The course is significant because it is going to help the Ministry of Human Services address some of the fundamental areas of its portfolio. My department is Gender Affairs, and we are really challenged to focus on inequalities and how these inequalities are created from the time a baby is born.”

The graduates will form a cadre of trainers and resource persons for the successful rolling out and implementation of the Foundations Programme in Guyana. The trainers will facilitate sessions with adolescent girls and young women using the Foundation curriculum. Through this approach, an estimated X[SATS1]  adolescents and young women are expected to be reached by the end of 2022.

During the ceremony, the Honourable Minister of Human Services and Social Security, Dr. Vindhya Persaud urged the graduates to be above the regular trainer while motivating them to be beyond the ordinary recipient of a certificate.

“For every woman that is affected by violence, her children are seeing that, and for every child, you are developing psychological scars…that can lead to them becoming abusers themselves or become abused because of what they would have experienced in their upbringing, these are the things that must be addressed through training that you will do,  …it must not be the regular blanket approach type of training that speaks only about the signs of domestic violence, no, we must be passionate. We must look at our own situation in Guyana, what are the trigge, what are the factors. The best indicators of how effective and how successful you are, is when you can change one, two, three, four and continue counting until those 100,000 people Ambassador [Ponz Canto] spoke about lives can be touched and that number exceeded…,” Minister Persaud said.

She added: “Those who perpetrate violence, they should be named, they should be called out, too long people are hiding behind something or the other whether it is tolerance, whether it is acceptance, or whether it is something that provides a veneer of nice person for a not nice person behind closed doors, and when I say that I mean it in the sense of violence and we need to rip that away, rip it off completely and  ensure people are identified for exactly who they are and if they need to face the , they must face it.”

The Foundations Programme, which was launched on International Day of Peace 2021, is aimed at targeting youth aged 13 to 24 to become advocates for the prevention of Gender-Based Violence. The programme will support participants in understanding how to address the root causes of GBV such as socially and culturally bound concepts of the values placed on women and men, in their personal lives as well as socially.

Ambassador of the European Union Delegation in Guyana, H.E. Fernando Ponz Cantó emphasized that the issue of gender-based violence is a global one and impressed upon the participants the importance of the work they will achieve in the field.

“The Spotlight Initiative is going to reach directly 100,000 Guyanese. That’s our objective, and we also expect that indirectly it will reach 500,000 persons. That is more than half of Guyanese, and we think it’s absolutely necessary because the fight against gender-based violence is something that happens everywhere,” the Ambassador said. “The real work starts now when you will disseminate everything that you have learnt and when you will reach others; when the trainer of trainers spread the good work that will eventually lead to the eradication of gender-based violence in Guyana.”

In the wake of the recent murders of women by intimate partners since the start of 2022, United Nations Resident Coordinator, Yeşim Oruç, echoed the urgent need to confront GBV at all ages, especially in youths. She highlighted the importance of the training in helping to tackle the issue of GBV.

“I am grateful for the leadership of the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security. This training of trainers is not just about sending people out there. It’s training…it’s housing them and sending them and using them to multiply the impact of those who can actually go and change norms and behaviours that lead to this violence against women and girls,” she said. 

Intimate partner violence (IPV) is pervasive in Guyana, with more than one in every two women (55%) in Guyana between the ages of 16 to 64, experiencing IPV in their lifetime, which is more than the global average of one in every three women (30%), according to the Guyana Women’s Health and Life Experiences Survey 2018. Given the unacceptably high incidence of gender-based violence in Guyana before COVID-19 and the pandemic’s further impact on the risks for women and girls in this crisis situation, the Foundations Programme is a critical step in eradicating social norms that perpetuate GBV in all its forms.

The programme will also provide practical approaches to achieving the six (6) key objectives outlined in the curriculum:

  • Empower young people to understand GBV and its genesis in gender inequalities and gender-based discrimination.
  • Promote an understanding of the consequences of GBV to partner(s), children, communities and societies in general.
  • Endow young people with knowledge, skills and attitudes for addressing conflict and responding to stress and stressors that arise in relationships.
  • Establish and model an atmosphere of respect within group relations among and between young people.
  • Promote self-sufficiency among young people in taking steps towards improving their relationships and their lives.
  • Create a network of young people who will advocate for non-violent relationships.

Guyana is the second Caribbean country[1] currently implementing the Foundations Programme under Pillar 3, the Prevention Pillar of the Spotlight Initiative that focuses on gender inequitable social norms, attitudes and behaviours change at community and individual levels to prevent violence against women and girls and harmful practices. For more information on the Foundations Programme, please visit: https://caribbean.unwomen.org/en/materials/publications/2018/11/foundations-programme#view

-ENDS-

For further information, please contact:

Sheryl-Ann Thomas-Scott

Communications Analyst

UN Women Multi Country Office – Caribbean 1-3 Lady Musgrave Road, Kingston 5, Jamaica

 Email: s.thomas-scott@unwomen.org WhatsApp: +1 876 463 4928

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