Guyana will soon be the beneficiary of $1 billion (€ 4.5 million) under the “Spotlight initiative”, a joint European Union and United Nations partnership to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls worldwide.

UN Resident Coordinator and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative, Mikiko Tanaka, during a presentation at the 13th National Toshaos’ Council Conference yesterday revealed that following consultations with government and civil society, the programme will be implemented over the next three years in communities across Regions 4 and 5 (Coastland) and Regions 1 and 7 (Hinterland).

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According to a report from the Department of Public Information (DPI), 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 while Toshao of Rockstone village, Flagan Carter noted that a lot of women and girls are suffering in silence from abuse.

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Carter said village 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. He added that his village will fully support this effort to protect women and girls from all forms of violence.

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

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“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.

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According to the project’s website in September 2017 following an allocation of €500M from the EU the initiative was launched.  It galvanizes political commitment in achieving the Sustainable Development Goal and promotes a holistic and multi-stakeholder approach to gender-based violence.

The Initiative aims at ending all forms of violence against women and girls, targeting those that are most prevalent and contribute to gender inequality across the world.

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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.

The site further explains that the overall vision of the Spotlight Initiative in Guyana is that women and girls realize their full potential in a violence-free, gender-responsive and inclusive way.

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The Spotlight Initiative will directly contribute to the achievement of three of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): Goal 5 on Gender Equality, Goal 3 on good health and well-being and Goal 16 on inclusive and peaceful societies.

The programme will contribute to the elimination of Sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) through the creation of a broad partnership with Civil Society, Government, Private Sector, Media, among others; and, build a social movement of women, men, girls and boys as champions and agents of change at the national, subnational and community levels. A specific focus will be on reaching and including in the programme women and girls who are often isolated and most vulnerable to SGBV and HPs due to intersecting forms of discrimination. The programme will also seek to address the Sexual Reproductive Human Rights needs of all women and girls using a life-cycle approach.

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