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UN finds that prospects for economic growth in 2020 hinge on reducing trade disputes and uncertainty

  • 16 January 2020 |

Press Release - New York, 16 January. Impacted by prolonged trade disputes, the global economy suffered its lowest growth in a decade, slipping to 2.3 per cent in 2019. The world, however, could see a slight uptick in economic activity in 2020 if risks are kept at bay, according to the United Nations World Economic Situation and Prospects (WESP) 2020, which was launched today.

The Report states that growth of 2.5 per cent in 2020 is possible, but a flareup of trade tensions, financial turmoil, or an escalation of geopolitical tensions could derail a recovery. In a downside scenario, global growth would slow to just 1.8 per cent this year. A prolonged weakness in global economic activity may cause significant setbacks for sustainable development, including the goals to eradicate poverty and create decent jobs for all. At the same time, pervasive inequalities and the deepening climate crisis are fueling growing discontent in many parts of the world.

"UN Secretary-General António Guterres warned:

“These risks could inflict severe and long-lasting damage on development prospects. They also threaten to encourage a further rise in inward-looking policies, at a point when global cooperation is paramount.”

In the United States, recent interest rate cuts by the US Federal Reserve may lend some support to economic activity. However, given persistent policy uncertainty, weak business confidence and waning fiscal stimulus, GDP growth in the United States is forecast to slow from 2.2 per cent in 2019 to 1.7 per cent in 2020. In the European Union, manufacturing will continue to be held back by global uncertainty, but this will be partially offset by steady growth in private consumption, allowing a modest rise in GDP growth from 1.4 per cent in 2019 to 1.6 per cent in 2020.

Some moderate growth and momentum projected

Despite significant headwinds, East Asia remains the world’s fastest growing region and the largest contributor to global growth, according to the Report. In China, GDP growth is projected to moderate gradually from 6.1 per cent in 2019 to 6.0 per cent in 2020 and 5.9 per cent in 2021, supported by more accommodative monetary and fiscal policies. Growth in other large emerging countries, including Brazil, India, Mexico, the Russian Federation and Turkey, is expected to gain some momentum in 2020.

Progress towards higher living standards has stalled for many Africa has experienced a decade of near stagnation in per capita GDP and many countries around the world are still ailing from the effects of the commodity price downturn of 2014-16, which resulted in persistent output losses and setbacks in poverty reduction. In one-third of commodity-dependent developing countries (home to 870 million people), average real incomes are lower today than they were in 2014.
This includes several large countries such as Angola, Argentina, Brazil, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and South Africa.

Credit: UN DESA

At the same time, the number of people living in extreme poverty has risen in several sub-Saharan African countries and in parts of Latin America and Western Asia. Sustained progress towards poverty reduction will require both a significant boost to productivity growth and firm commitments to tackle high levels of inequality.

UN estimates indicate that to eradicate poverty in much of Africa, annual per capita growth of over 8 per cent would be needed, compared to the just 0.5 per cent average rate over the past decade. Headline GDP growth misses crucial aspects of sustainability and well-being Beyond GDP growth, other measures of well-being paint an even bleaker picture in several parts of the world.

Climate change: an investment priority

The climate crisis, persistently high inequalities, and rising levels of food insecurity and undernourishment continue to affect the quality of life in many societies. “Policymakers should move beyond a narrow focus on merely promoting GDP growth, and instead aim to enhance well-being in all parts of society.

This requires prioritizing investment in sustainable development projects to promote education, renewable energy, and resilient infrastructure,” emphasized Elliott Harris, UN Chief Economist and Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development.

Economic growth while limiting carbon emissions is possible by changing the energy mix To combat climate change, the world’s growing energy needs must be met with renewable or low-carbon energy sources. This will require massive adjustments in the energy sector, which currently accounts for about three-quarters of global greenhouse gas emissions. If per capita emissions in developing countries were to rise towards those in developed economies, global carbon emissions would increase by more than 250 per cent – compared to the global goal of reaching net zero emissions by 2050.

The urgency of energy transition continues to be underestimated, resulting in short-sighted decisions such as expanding investment in oil and gas exploration and coal-fired power generation. This not only leaves many investors and Governments exposed to sudden losses, but also poses substantial setbacks to environmental targets. Any delay in decisive action towards energy transition could double the eventual costs. The transition to a cleaner energy mix will bring not only environmental and health benefits, but economic opportunities for many countries.

A more balanced policy mix is needed Overreliance on monetary policy is not just insufficient to revive growth, it also entails significant costs, including the exacerbation of financial stability risks. A more balanced policy mix is needed, one that stimulates economic growth while moving towards greater social inclusion, gender equality, and environmentally sustainable production.

“Amid growing discontent over a lack of inclusive growth, calls for change are widespread across the globe. Much greater attention needs to be paid to the distributional and environmental implications of policy measures,” concluded Mr. Harris.

 Info-graphic summary of Latin America and the Caribbean 


World Economic Situation, Prospects - Key messages

  • 16 January 2020 |

Amid prolonged trade dispute and wide‐ranging policy uncertainties, the world economy has suffered a significant and broad‐based deterioration, threatening setbacks to development goals.

  • Rising tariffs and rapid shifts in trade policies have pushed global trade growth down to 0.3 per cent—its lowest level since 2009—and significantly curtailed investment.
  • Bilateral trade between the United States and China has plummeted by more than 13 per cent, with significant disruptions to global supply chains. The electronics and automobile industries have been hit hard.

Even as global trade tensions ease along some fronts, the potential for setbacks is high, as important issues underlying these disputes have yet to be tackled in depth. In per capita terms, the global economy is projected to grow by 1.5 per cent in 2020.

  • Headwinds in developed economies are expected to persist. Although the baseline scenario projects a modest acceleration in GDP growth in many developing regions, 1 in 5 countries will see per capita incomes stagnate or decline.
  • Headline GDP growth misses crucial aspects of sustainability and well‐being

Globally, the quality of life continues to fall well short of adequate levels, amid the climate crisis, rising levels of food insecurity and undernourishment, and persistently high inequalities in income and opportunities that underpin profound social discriminations.

  • Calls for change are widespread across the globe reflecting a growing discontent with the economic, social and environmental status quo.
  • Risks remain strongly tilted to the downside, amid deepening political polarizations, increasing scepticism over the benefits of multilateralism. With limited global policy space, risks have the potential to inflict severe and longlasting damage on society.
  • A flareup of trade tensions that prompted firms in developed economies and in East Asia to postpone just 1 per cent of investment, could see world trade growth slow to 0.6 per cent and world gross product growth to just 1.8 per cent in 2020. This compares to baseline projections of 2.3 and 2.5 per cent, respectively.
  • Progress towards higher living standards has already stalled for many—in one‐third of commodity‐dependent countries (home to 870 million people), average real incomes today are lower than they were in 2014.
  • The number of people living in extreme poverty has risen in several sub‐Saharan African countries, and in parts of Latin America and the Caribbean and Western Asia. Eradicating poverty in Africa will require much faster income growth and steep declines in inequality: without redressing inequality, eradicating poverty calls for annual per capita growth of over 8 per cent in much of Africa—compared to the woefully inadequate rate of 0.5 per cent seen in the last decade.

Interest rate cuts alone will not suffice to spur investment, which is held back by uncertainty and a lack of business confidence rather than financing costs.

  • Strong demand for negative‐yielding sovereign bonds suggests that many investors are more willing to endure small losses than undertake productive investment.
  • With no signs of a significant investment revival in the near term, labour productivity growth will continue to stall.
  • Without strong policy measures to boost productivity, including large‐scale infrastructure investment, improvements to the quality of education and promotion of the innovation capacity, solid progress towards the SDGs will remain elusive in many countries.

There are growing concerns that monetary policy has reached its limits. Overburdened monetary policies have proven insufficient to stimulate investment, and entail significant costs, including exacerbating financial stability risks.

  • To deliver healthy and inclusive growth and a higher standard of living for all, a more balanced policy mix is called for, including structural shifts in the design of fiscal policy, carefully integrated with labour market initiatives, business and financial regulation,
    social protection systems and targeted investment incentives.

The world economy is plagued by risks that threaten financial stability. Thesemay become intertwined with trade tensions, amid prolonged loose monetary conditions, rapid credit growth in some emerging economies and high levels of debt.

  • High global debt is not only a financial risk, but also a source of fragility in case of a further deterioration in economic activity. As households and firms struggle to roll over debt, rising bankruptcies and tighter credit conditions could trigger a disorderly deleveraging process, large asset price corrections, and spikes in risk aversion.

Investors continue to underestimate climate risks, encouraging short‐sighted decisions that expand investment into carbon‐intensive assets. This leaves many Governments and investors exposed to sudden losses and poses substantial setbacks to environmental targets.

  • The only way to break the link between greenhouse gas emissions and economic activity is to change the energy mix. Arresting global warming will require firm political will and the full strength of all available policy instruments to enhance energy efficiency, develop required infrastructure and technology, and promote essential behavioural changes.
  • Moving towards a world where polluters shoulder an increasing share of the environmental costs associated with their activities, for example via carbon pricing, will expose widespread vulnerabilities among holders of carbon‐intensive assets.
  • Energy transition is expected to have substantial social consequences, which will fall unevenly within and between countries. Measures to compensate those who are disproportionately impacted are essential to protect the vulnerable and safeguard the political viability of difficult but urgently needed policy actions.
  • A delay in decisive action towards energy transition could double the eventual costs.

UN committed to helping Haiti build better future, says Guterres, marking 10-year anniversary of devastating earthquake

  • 12 January 2020 |

On 12 January 2010, a 7.0 magnitude quake struck Haiti, devastating its capital, Port-au-Prince. About 220,000 people were reportedly killed, among them, 102 UN staff who lost their lives when the building housing the stabilization mission there, known as MINUSTAH, collapsed. Some 300,000 people were injured and 1.5 million become homeless during the 35-second-long tremor.

Marking the 10-year anniversary of the tragedy, Secretary General António Guterres renewed the commitment of the United Nations to helping the country and its people build a better future. 

“On this day, we remember the hundreds of thousands of Haitians who lost their lives and the millions gravely affected by the devastating earthquake that struck their country ten years ago,” Mr. Guterres said in a video statement, also honouring the memory of the UN colleagues lost on that same day. 

“My heart goes out to all those who lost family, friends and loved ones., the Secretary-General Said, adding: “I will never forget the shock and sadness across the United Nations as we became aware of the scale of the tragedy.”   

The UN chief said that over the past decade, Haiti has drawn on the resilience of its people and the support of its many friends to overcome this disaster. 

“With the continued support of the international community, Haiti is striving to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including through strengthening the institutions that are so crucial to the wellbeing and prosperity of its people,” Mr. Guterres said. 

Sombre Commemorations

On Friday, UN Spokesman Stéphane Dujarric told reporters that in Port-au-Prince on Sunday, all UN staff have been invited to attend a commemorative ceremony to be held at the site of the Christopher Hotel, which housed the UN peacekeeping mission’s headquarters, and which collapsed during the earthquake.

Assistant Secretary-General Miroslav Jenča will be the senior official from New York representing the UN at this ceremony and other commemorative events organized by the Haitian Government.

Next week, there will be several other events to mark the anniversary.

On Monday, in Tunis, the UN will inaugurate the Hedi Annabi Hall, honouring the memory of the head of the UN peacekeeping mission, Hedi Annabi, who died in the collapse of the Christopher Hotel. Mr. Annabi was also a long-time Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations in New York.

And in Geneva, on Wednesday, there will be another commemoration at the Palais des Nations, with, among other participants, Haiti’s Minister of Foreign Affairs.

And lastly, on Friday next week, 17 January, the Secretary-General will take part in a ceremony here which will include representatives of the countries who lost [citizens] their lives in the earthquake.


Message on the 10th anniversary of Haiti earthquake

  • 10 January 2020 |

On this day, we remember the hundreds of thousands of Haitians who lost their lives and the millions gravely affected by the devastating earthquake that struck their country ten years ago.

We also honour the memory of one hundred and two United Nations colleagues lost that same day.

I will never forget the shock and sadness across the United Nations as we became aware of the scale of the tragedy. 

My heart goes out to all those who lost family, friends and loved ones. 

Over the past decade, Haiti has drawn on the resilience of its people and the support of its many friends to overcome this disaster.

With the continued support of the international community, Haiti is striving to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, including through strengthening the institutions that are so crucial to the wellbeing and prosperity of its people.

On this day, I renew the commitment of the United Nations to helping Haiti and its people build a brighter future.

Thank you.


Biodiversity for Sustainable Development in the Caribbean through Ecosystem Based Management

  • 20 December 2019 |

"Biodiversity for Sustainable Development in the Caribbean through Ecosystem Based Management" (EBM-DSS) is a 4-year project (2015-2019) implemented by the UN Environment Caribbean Environment Programme (CEP) under the SPAW Protocol, which has been leading a process to ensemble and test a methodology that analysed ecosystem bio-ecological and socioeconomic aspects utilising a highly participative and inter-disciplinary group of stakeholders in the Dominican Republic in two pilot sites: Puerto Plata and Montecristi.

The overall goal of this project was to develop capacities and information systems as well as pilot test their application, that can be used by governments and non-governmental organisations, to support decisions on planning and managing coastal resources with an ecosystem-based management (EBM) approach.

Project implementation was possible thanks to the generous contributions from the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its Italian Agency for Cooperation and Development (AICS). With the support of the Italian company PROGES Planning and Development Consulting (PROGES) the transfer of knowledge on EBM and DSS application across the Wider Caribbean has been possible over the span of the project.

source: UN Environment Caribbean

Learn more about this project


Sexual Harassment affects both women and men and can incur significant social and economic costs in the Jamaican Workplace

  • 17 December 2019 |

Kingston, Jamaica December 2019: UN Women National Private Sector Specialist for the Win-Win: Gender Equality Means Good Business Programme in Jamaica, Dr. Denise Chevannes-Vogel, has underscored the fact that although the majority of victims are women, sexual harassment is experienced by both women and men and is perpetrated regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity. “It is unwanted and unwelcome and can result in significant social and economic costs in the Jamaican workplace,” she said.

Dr. Chevannes-Vogel pointed out that sexual harassment leads to an intimidating and hostile work environment in which workers become demotivated, discouraged, emotionally fragile and broken. “They leave and this can result in the cost of having to retrain workers or in very expensive lawsuits,” she noted.

Dr. Chevannes-Vogel was speaking during a “Multimedia Sensitisation Forum for the Prevention of Sexual Harassment in the Private Sector Workplace” on Wednesday (December 11, 2019) hosted under the auspices of the regional programme Win-Win: Gender Equality Means Good Business”a strategic partnership between UN Women, the European Union and the International Labour Organization (ILO).

The forum follows recent discussions by a joint parliamentary committee on the proposed Sexual Harassment Act 2019 which seeks to protect all women and men from unwanted sexual advances, requests for sexual favours, and crude sexual behaviours that affect quality of life by creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment.

Almost 50 representatives from private sector organisations, government, civil society and women’s groups, international development partners and trade unions attended the event. The Win-Win programme promotes the economic empowerment of women, recognizing them as beneficiaries and partners of growth and development. In the Caribbean, where the majority of households are headed by single women, women’s economic independence is important to support their families. Sexual harassment can ultimately impact continued employment and ability to earn an income.

In Jamaica, the Win-Win Programme is working with the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport through the Bureau of Gender Affairs to develop an awareness and communications campaign around the upcoming Sexual Harassment law in Jamaica.

Senior Director, Bureau of Gender Affairs, Mrs. Sharon Coburn Robinson said members of the public are invited to take part in the process by submitting their contributions to the House of Parliament by 23 December ,“Once the submissions are made the Joint Select Committee will make a determination as to how soon it is heard and how are taken on each sitting.” She said the sittings will be held weekly starting in January 2020 to make sure the legislation is swiftly treated.

source : UN Women Caribbean



Rise in Caribbean children displaced by storms shows climate crisis is a child rights issue: UNICEF

  • 06 December 2019 |

The number of Caribbean children displaced by storms has risen approximately six-fold in the past five years, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reveals in a new report released on Friday.

Catastrophic tropical cyclones and hurricanes uprooted an estimated 761,000 children in the region between 2014 and 2018, which also was the hottest five-year period on record.

The preceding five-year period, 2009 to 2013, saw some 175,000 Caribbean youngsters displaced.

“This report is a stark reminder that the climate crisis is a child rights crisis,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore.

“Children in storm and flood-prone nations around the world are among the most vulnerable to having their lives and rights upended. They are already feeling the impacts of climate change, so governments and the international community should act now to mitigate its most devastating consequences.” 

Put children at heart of climate action

UNICEF recalled that the Caribbean was slammed by a series of catastrophic tropical cyclones or hurricanes between 2016 and 2018, including four Category 5 storms.

The agency has been providing lifesaving assistance for children and families across the Caribbean affected by the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season.

More than 400,000 children were displaced that year alone.

The report, Children Uprooted in the Caribbean: How stronger hurricanes linked to a changing climate are driving child displacement (https://www.unicef.org/reports/children-uprooted-caribbean-2019), warns that without urgent climate action, displacement levels are likely to remain high in the coming decades.

UNICEF is calling on Governments to put children at the heart of climate change strategies and response plans, and to protect them from its impacts.

Authorities also are urged to provide displaced children with protection and access to education, healthcare and other essential services, among other recommendations.




Caribbean Member States endorse first-ever Regional Strategic Framework for cooperation with IAEA

  • 05 December 2019 |

From 18 to 20 November 2019, fifteen representatives of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Member States joined delegates from CARICOM regional organisations at the Agency’s Vienna headquarters to review and endorse its Regional Strategic Framework (RSF) – a platform for aligning IAEA support with States’ current development priorities.

The RSF identifies the primary concerns, opportunities and obstacles associated with nuclear-supported development in the Caribbean, particularly in the fields of agriculture, food safety and security, human health, energy planning, radiation technologies and radiation safety. The document draws attention to not only the benefits of nuclear techniques and technologies, but also to the most commonly-encountered challenges that may prevent or delay the implementation of those technologies. Moreover, the RSF addresses cross-cutting issues on which the success of nuclear applications may depend, notably: communication and outreach, partnership-building and gender mainstreaming, as well as guidance for the subsequent monitoring and evaluation of technical cooperation activities.

The Framework was created following meetings in 2018 and 2019 among stakeholders and decision-makers from IAEA Member States in the Caribbean seeking to work more closely together and to leverage the available resources and capacities in the region. They explored how best to tackle development issues cooperatively, and how to collectively implement nuclear-derived solutions with IAEA assistance, supported by a Regional Strategic Framework that would align Agency support with existing development priorities. The year-long development process included several rounds of regional stakeholder reviews and IAEA expert assessments, which supported the crafting of a coherent and consensus-based list of priorities for the Caribbean.

“The Regional Strategic Framework represents a significant step in developing future programming in the Caribbean region. As such, it will serve as a framework within which future [technical cooperation] projects can be developed, implemented and monitored, thereby promoting stronger cooperation amongst regional stakeholders,” said Luis Longoria, Director, IAEA Technical Cooperation Division of Latin America and the Caribbean.

Also addressing the RSF review meeting, were high-level representatives, Ambassador Lourdes Victoria-Kruse, Permanent Representative of the Dominican Republic, and Marieta García Jordán, Minister Counselor and Alternate Permanent Representative of Cuba to the UN Office in Vienna. They highlighted the close, cooperative ties between IAEA-CARICOM Member States and the intergovernmental Agreement for the Promotion of Nuclear Sciences and Technology in Latin America and the Caribbean (ARCAL) through which most IAEA Member States in the Latin America and the Caribbean have committed to promote the use of nuclear techniques for peace and development.

Meeting participants included National Liaison Officers and National Liaison Assistants from eight IAEA Member States - Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago. They were joined by representatives from the Caribbean Agriculture Health and Food Safety Agency, the Caribbean Agricultural Development Institute, Caribbean Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology, the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States and the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency.


Caribbean government officials review impact of UN country support through its Multi-country Sustainable Development Framework

  • 27 November 2019 |

BRIDGETOWN – Senior Caribbean government officials and United Nations representatives are gathering in Barbados this week to assess the initial three years of their collaboration through the UN Multi-country Sustainable Development Framework (MSDF), and to agree on strategies for strengthening this mechanism.

Some 50 participants are attending the MSDF Annual Coordination Meeting (ACM), which is being co-hosted by the Government of Barbados and the UN Barbados and the OECS from 27 to 28 November 2019 at the Hilton Hotel, Barbados.

Discussions will review the effectiveness of the MSDF, which is designed to support more direct access to technical expertise from the United Nations and – through integrated, multi-country initiatives - facilitate the resource mobilisation and partnerships needed to move regional development efforts forward.

The meeting will also discuss progress of UN System reform and its potential to deliver innovative collaborations and strategic approaches for tackling the range of sustainable development challenges being addressed within the MSDF. Among the most pressing of these concerns are climate change resilience, social inclusion, and protecting vulnerable populations.  Participants will also explore the means of strengthening the UN’s support to regional governments through continued implementation of the MSDF.

In his welcome, Mr. Didier Trebucq, Chair of the MSDF Regional Steering Committee and UN Resident Coordinator Barbados and the OECS, thanked the Government of Barbados for their continued partnership with the UN.

“Supporting all states in the Caribbean to achieve sustainable development, remains of paramount importance to the United Nations Development System. The MSDF intends to facilitate a more efficient and effective development system to support governments in achieving the SDGs, especially through dedicated support to all SIDS. The UN in the Caribbean will be further strengthened to deliver at the country level,” Trebucq said.

The Multi-Country Sustainable Development Framework is a USD$197.9 million facility of UN support to Caribbean governments for achieving the SDGs and delivering on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and other international development agreements.  The four MSDF priority areas are: An Inclusive, Equitable and Prosperous Caribbean; a Healthy Caribbean; a Safe, Cohesive and Just Caribbean; and a Sustainable and Resilient Caribbean.

Eighteen UN agencies contribute to the implementation of the MSDF, with individual UN agencies continuing to focus on areas of their mandate through their respective country programmes and strategies.

In her opening address, the Hon. Marsha Caddle, Minister of Economic Affairs and Investment Barbados, welcomed UN support while echoing that the MSDF remains relevant for responding to regional developmental priorities.

“The MSDF will not be all things to all people and all countries but it can provide an opportunity to address issues that require action, attention and investment at the regional level. Countries are at different stages of development. It [MSDF] gives us a chance to tackle the issues which require a regional approach and with the UN working as One,” Minister Caddle said.

To date, the UN MSDF has mobilised partner governments and other stakeholders around the SDGs. A number of countries’ national development plans are well aligned with the 2030 Agenda. The MSDF has also allowed for strengthened inter-country cooperation and UN mobilisation in responding to disaster relief, recovery and resilience-building in the Caribbean.

A Joint SDG Fund as well as the Caribbean component of the Spotlight Initiative (a programme for tackling family violence and gender-based violence at the national and regional levels) are other examples of UN-government cooperation at work.

Virtual policy networks as well as knowledge sharing through regional trainings and workshops, often in collaboration with CARICOM, the OECS and other regional entities have been key features of MSDF cooperation.

Through the MSDF, the UN remains a committed partner to Caribbean countries as they pursue their national strategic priorities, by achieving the SDGs and delivering on the global 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Minister Caddle thanked the UN System for continuing to recognize the importance of a regional approach to development.

“Together we are stronger. Together we deliver for the people of the Caribbean to ensure that no one is left behind,” Trebucq said.


Caribbean Representative M. Alison McLean statement re: International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women – 25 November

  • 25 November 2019 |

Work on preventing and ending violence against women at the global, regional and national levels shows that there is widespread impunity for sexual violence and rape. UN Women-supported research conducted here in the Caribbean in the past two years reinforced that violence against women and girls (VAWG) including rape is so entrenched and normalised that both men and women have a high tolerance for its manifestations.

Notwithstanding women’s well known and often touted gains in public life and the introduction of laws, policies, and initiatives to promote women’s equality, prevailing socio-cultural attitudes that perpetuate unequal and hierarchical power relations reinforcing notions of female subordination and male domination, mitigate against these gains and in turn fuel VAWG. 

The UN Secretary-General’s UNiTE by 2030 to End Violence against Women Campaign is focusing on rape as a specific form of harm committed against women and girls, in times of peace or war.  The UN System’s 16 Days of Activism to End Violence Against Women and Girls activities begin on 25th November under our 2019 global theme: Orange the World: Generation Equality Stands against Rape!

The UN Women-supported research, which is available for four Caribbean countries to date, shows non-partner sexual violence (NPSV) which includes rape, attempted rape, unwanted sexual touching and sexual harassment, is reported at significantly higher rates than  intimate partner sexual violence and a significant risk factor is being young. 

In Guyana, most women reporting sexual intimate partner violence (IPV) reported being forced to have sexual intercourse when they did not want to (8 per cent) and nearly as many women reported having sexual intercourse with their partner because they were afraid to refuse (7 per cent). On the other hand, 20 per cent - or 1 in 5 women - in Guyana reported non-partner sexual abuse in their lifetime, with 13 per cent experiencing this abuse before the age of 18.

One-fifth of Jamaican women reported being sexually abused before reaching 18 years of age. Further 1 in 7 reported that their first sexual experience was before the age of 15 years. Under Jamaican law, the age of consent is 16 years old; any sexual intercourse under that age is statutory rape.

The Suriname GBV prevalence survey revealed that the prevalence of NPSV among all women (14 percent) is almost double that of sexual IPV (8 percent). In Trinidad and Tobago, the prevalence of NPSV (21.3%) is almost four times higher than that of sexual IPV (5.0%).

Without reliable and relevant data, it is not possible to adequately treat, reduce and prevent violence against women and girls. Representative for UN Women Multi-Country Office – Caribbean, Ms. Alison McLean has noted that: “UN Women has invested significantly in supporting member states in strengthening capacities to fill the data gaps on violence against women and girls.

Working with regional partners, the Caribbean Development Bank and CARICOM, we developed the CARICOM Prevalence Survey Model.  The CARICOM Model is based on the long-tested global World Health Organization (WHO) model which is considered internationally to be the best practice for national, population-based studies on prevalence data on GBV. This CARICOM model also allows us to capture information on the consequences of GBV for women, their children and families, women’s help-seeking behaviours and risk and protective factors for violence.  It allows in a real way for the voices of women and girls to be heard.”

National-level efforts should seek to de-stigmatize the experience of intimate partner violence and to shift gender norms and roles in order to create a society in which violence against women is openly rejected and firmly addressed.  Information on where women seek help and where they do not should inform how services to support victims should be designed and located. Data on women and girls’ vulnerabilities, partner characteristics and other socio-demographic factors should guide how to prevent and respond to this violence.

The MCO Caribbean Representative has further stressed: “UN Women, along with other UN agencies will be using the data gathered from these surveys to support national efforts to prevent intimate partner violence through school-based and community-based initiatives; including working with men and boys through Batterer Intervention and Prevention programmes; and private sector initiatives that prevent work-related spill overs of family violence to create safe spaces at work”.

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