SIDS conference will bring solutions

The outcomes of a two-day regional gender meeting now on in Barbados, is hoped to be fed into the major Small Island Developing States conference set for here next week.

And, says UNDP Resident Representative Stephen O’Malley, the results will combine with those of similar fora taking place around the world, the aim of which is to find a way forward toward gender equality beyond the end of the Millennium Development Goals in 2015.

O’Malley was at the time speaking to regional ministers, civil organisations and gender-focused bodies at the Caribbean Forum on Gender Equality and the Post 2015 Agenda.

Tracing the history behind this meeting, he noted that as far back as September 2010, the UN General Assembly had convened to review progress on the MDGs with a view towards achieving the goals by 2015, with the UN taking the lead on what would happen thereafter.

Advocating for a bottom-up approach to be defined by national and local priorities and stakeholders, the UN rep said was the way to complement the work of the High Level Panel of Eminent Persons.

“So far, more than 200,000 people from 189 countries have been engaged through a mix of digital media, mobile phone applications, conferences, and paper ballot surveys. UN teams in member states are undertaking special efforts to ensure that groups that are usually absent from participation in global processes – women, indigenous communities, the youth, the LGBT community, people with disabilities – are consulted on what they see as priorities for development of their communities.

“In the sub-region, St. Lucia and Grenada were selected to host in-depth and wide-ranging national consultations, which produced rich debate and concrete action points… [and touched] on aspects from the environment to education to labour markets and beyond.

“The results of this event will combine with the national and thematic consultations that have taken place around the world, as well as the massive citizen outreach that has occurred through the World We Want 2015 website. This fall, the General Assembly and the member states of the UN will use those inputs to begin setting out the post-2015 agenda,” he said.

This meeting, he underscored, was to ensure the Caribbean voice and those of SIDS were fully heard.

Likewise, UN Women Representative for the Multi-Country Office — Caribbean, Christine Arab, noted that the meeting was so gender equality advocates fully understood the global agenda.

“The Caribbean has been incredibly influential if I may say, beyond its size in global dialogue when it comes to human rights and equality agendas. Within gender equality specifically over the last 30 years, the Caribbean feminist movement in particular helped craft and shape the global agenda and it is our feeling that this upcoming agenda is as important as Beijing+5… We want to ensure that women’s voices, that the voices of women and men who are concerned with disparities in the Caribbean are heard.” (LB)

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