The Government of Canada through its “Enabling, Gender-Responsive Disaster Recovery, Climate and Environmental Resilience in the Caribbean (EnGenDER)” Project has committed USD 1,149,000 towards efforts to tackle Gender Based Violence (GBV) and COVID-19 in nine participating Caribbean countries including St. Vincent and the Grenadines. This initiative aims to support vulnerable people (mostly women and children) who are more at risk of violence during the pandemic given social isolation measures, movement restrictions, and increased economic pressure within the household.  EnGenDER is being implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with UN Women, World Food Program, and the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA).

 

More broadly, EnGenDER is a key initiative that seeks to address the issue of climate change impacts particularly on vulnerable groups such as women, children, youth, persons living with disabilities, and indigenous and tribal populations.  Given the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on these populations, activities will be implemented in recognition of the vulnerability of these populations and to support the achievement of the overall project results.  Under the leadership of the Government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and institutional coordination by the Gender Affairs Division within the Ministry of National Mobilisation, Social Development, the Family, Gender, Persons with Disabilities and Youth, Canada’s support will be used to provide income security in the form of food and medication vouchers. These vouchers will benefit over 500 vulnerable persons including single parents, teen mothers, the elderly, persons with disabilities and victims of gender-based violence. Canada will also support a 24-hour domestic violence hotline and the establishment of a referral pathway for counselling and follow-up services.

 

The Government and people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines are grateful for the assistance from the Government of Canada, which, in addition to providing support to vulnerable groups,  will be used to train key service providers to recognize the signs of violence and individuals at risk, increase public awareness on Gender-Based Violence and protect frontline workers who provide care services throughout  St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

 

Marie Legault, Canada’s High Commissioner to St. Vincent and the Grenadines, noted “COVID-19 has only increased the challenges of vulnerable populations of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. 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. We hope that through Canada’s support to the EnGenDER initiative, Vincentians are provided with opportunities to ensure their safety and livelihoods.”

 

 

As soon as the spread of COVID-19 started to threaten Caribbean economies and its most vulnerable populations, UNDP mobilized 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 the EnGenDER initiative to support the Governments of the region, for the benefit of those most in need”. Magdy Martinez Soliman, Resident Representative, UNDP Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean.”

 

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 in the area of agriculture. 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”, said Tonni Brodber, Head of Office a.i. UN Women MCO Caribbean.

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