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Forum of CARICOM First Ladies and Spouses to move forward Every Caribbean Woman, Every Caribbean Child Initiative

he high rate of violence against women will be among issues discussed when the Forum of the Caribbean Community’s (CARICOM’s) Spouses of Heads of State and Government on the Every Caribbean Woman, Every Caribbean Child (ECWECC) initiative begins in Guyana tomorrow.

The Guyana-based CARICOM Secretariat said that the two-day meeting will seek to hammer out the specifics on the way forward for this initiative.

The ECWECC initiative is expected to provide opportunities to improve the lives of women, children and adolescents. It focuses on four priority issues: teenage pregnancy; violence against women and children, including trafficking in persons; cervical cancer and mother to child transmission of HIV in the Caribbean.

Guyana’s First Lady, Sandra Granger, said the initiative evolved out of the Every Woman, Every Girl (EWEG) Initiative of former United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, which was launched in 2014. She said that ECWECC took on board Caribbean realities, resulting in the four areas for priority intervention and the expanded focus to include the child, irrespective of gender.

 These include the Caribbean having the second highest rate of teenage pregnancy in the world after sub-Saharan Africa, with an estimated 20 per cent giving birth before the age of 19, cervical cancer being the second leading cause of cancer deaths among Caribbean women aged 15 to 49 and accounting for 13 per cent of all cancer cases.

The meeting is also expected to discuss the high rate of violence against women and girls, which also involves trafficking in persons.

“Invitees include regional and international partners who have expressed a willingness to come on board to assist… providing resources, both financial and intellectual to push it (the initiative) forward,” Granger said.

The forum is funded by Gilead Sciences Inc and organised by the Office of the First Lady of Guyana in collaboration with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the CARICOM Secretariat.

CARICOM leaders endorsed the ECWECC initiative at their summit here in 2016, and a report of the forum will be presented to them at their inter-sessional meeting, which also begins tomorrow.  

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