Today, the Government of Saint Lucia received USD100,000 from the Enabling, Gender-Responsive Disaster Recovery, Climate and Environmental Resilience in the Caribbean (EnGenDER) Project to fund a COVID-19 Response Initiative. These funds are from the Government of Canada and will be used to support the implementation of income supplemental initiatives which will benefit women in the informal sector, women farmers and women living with disabilities. Assistance will also be provided to address gender-based violence, such as online training in psychosocial support for essential workers; and the procurement and distribution of personal protective equipment to frontline workers.
Thanks to the generous support of the Government of Canada and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), EnGenDER Project is committing USD 1,149,000 towards tackling Gender Based Violence (GBV) and COVID-19 in nine (9) participating Caribbean countries.
The COVID-19 Response Initiative places significant emphasis on actions which address gender-based violence and gender vulnerabilities that have become more pervasive as result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Marie Legault, Canada’s High Commissioner to Saint Lucia, noted “the measures taken globally to reduce the spread of COVID-19 have unfortunately increased the incidence of gender-based violence and the vulnerability of women, children, and other at-risk populations. Prevention, risk mitigation of and response to gender-based violence should be maintained, prioritised and integrated in all humanitarian action related to COVID-19. We hope that through Canada’s support the most vulnerable will be provided with opportunities to ensure their safety and livelihoods.”
UNDP Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Resident Representative, a.i. Mr. Ugo Blanco in his response to the role of UNDP stated, “as soon as the spread of COVID-19 started to threaten Caribbean economies and its most vulnerable populations, UNDP mobilised its resources to assist Governments in the response. Canada has placed itself on the frontlines of this emergency abroad, allowing UNDP to reprogram resources of EnGenDER to support the Governments of the region, for the benefit of those most in need.”
Ms. Tonni Brodber, Representative, a.i. UN Women Multi- Country Office for the Caribbean added, “while home is a place of refuge for many it can be a terrifying place for some. Caribbean countries for which violence against women (VAW) surveys were undertaken are in line with or exceed the global average of 1 in 3 women having experienced VAW at the hands of an intimate partner in their lifetime. With the on-set of COVID, we have also seen the shadow pandemic of GBV increasing at home, online and in public spaces. After consultation with the National Gender Machineries, UN Women proposed reprogramming, which would sustainably meet the needs identified by those who provide direct services to GBV survivors and support the economically vulnerable. We are thankful that the Government of Canada and our project partners were responsive and flexible to ensure that the programme adapted to meet the immediate needs identified by our partners.”
The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) Resident British Commissioner for Saint Lucia, Steve McCready noted, “although the UK is funding the response to the COVID-19 pandemic through a number of initiatives, it is appropriate that specific support helps the most vulnerable. The disaster response measures funded by this area of work ensure that women, persons with disabilities and the aged are given special consideration, by extension contributing to the safety of the wider community.”
In their gracious receipt of the funding support under the COVID-19 Response Initiative the Government of Saint Lucia, Minister of Education, Innovation, Gender Relations and Sustainable Development, Hon. Dr. Gale Rigobert stated, “the needs and challenges of the most vulnerable, exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, cannot be adequately addressed with existing budgets and programmes. We therefore express immense gratitude to the Government of Canada and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), through the Enabling, Gender-Responsive Disaster Recovery, Climate and Environmental Resilience in the Caribbean (EnGenDER) project for the reallocation of funds to deal with the urgent needs of our people who have been caught unprepared in the economic and social impacts of this crisis.”
In summation, support from the EnGenDER Project to the COVID-19 response is in direct fulfilment of the goals of the project which will contribute to gender responsive and inclusive resilient recovery approaches in the Caribbean. The overall objective is to ensure that the most vulnerable, are reached and assisted during and after this crisis.