Indigenous leaders endorse ‘Spotlight Initiative’

Guyana to benefit from $1B to end violence against women and girls

DPI, Guyana, Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Under the United Nation’s ‘Spotlight Initiative’, Guyana will benefit from $1Billion (€4.5M) to end all forms of violence against women and girls, and to ensure that they realise their full potential in a violence-free, gender-responsive and inclusive way.

This was announced by UN Resident Coordinator and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative, Mikiko Tanaka, during a presentation at the 13th National Toshaos’ Council Conference this evening.

The programme will be implemented over the next three years and several communities will be targeted in Regions 4 and 5 (Coastland) and Regions 1 and 7 (Hinterland). Consultations were held with government agencies, the NTC and NGOs on the selection of the regions.

Tanaka explained that the initiative is a global one that was launched in September 2017 with a European Union contribution of €500M. It galvanizes political commitment in achieving the SDG and promotes a holistic and multi-stakeholder approach to gender-based violence. The UN is also striving to model a new kind of partnership with governments, civil society and communities and across the UN system to deliver on the SDGs comprehensively.

Michael Williams, Community Leader and Radio broadcaster at Radio Paiwomak in Annai, said that the programme is a very important one. He committed to collaborating with the UNDP to prepare content on the issue of violence through radio programming to educate the people of the North Rupununi.

Toshao of Rockstone village, Flagan Carter noted that a lot of women and girls are suffering in silence from abuse. He said villages leaders must play a leading role in eliminating this scourge from society, and proposed that there needs to be some inclusion in the revision of the Amerindian Act of 2006 on the issues. Carter added that his village will fully support this effort to protect women and girls from all forms of violence.

Minister within the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Hon. Valerie Garrido-Lowe acknowledged the importance of the programme, stressing that the nation’s women need to be protected and respected.

“We cannot get that done by ourselves. We have to have support from our men and so I am going to ask all the Toshaos and senior council to take this programme seriously,” Minister Garrido-Lowe said as she recalled the Toshao of Kangaruma who was killed when he went to rescue his daughter who was being abused by her husband.

She advised the men and women to speak out on the issue and educate the residents of the negative impact of all forms of violence, especially on children.

The ‘Spotlight Initiative’ will deploy targeted, large-scale investments in Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Pacific and the Caribbean, aimed at achieving significant improvements in the lives of women and girls. Guyana is one of the countries in the Caribbean to benefit from this transformative initiative.