(February 3, 2020) Santiago, Chile, Antigua & Barbuda had strong representation and participation at the XIV Regional Conference on Women in Latin America and the Caribbean. The Regional Conference is a subsidiary body of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) convened triennially to identify the situation of women’s autonomy and rights at the regional and sub-regional levels. The Conference, conducted in collaboration with UN Women, considers present public policy recommendations for gender equality, undertakes periodic assessments of the activities carried out in fulfillment of regional and international plans and agreements on the subject and serves as a forum for debates on relevant issues.
Antigua & Barbuda was represented by Hon. Minister of Social Transformation, Human Resource Development, Youth and Gender Affairs, Agriculture, Fisheries and Barbuda Affairs, Samantha Marshall, and Executive Director, Directorate of Gender Affairs, Farmala Jacobs.
A highlight of the meeting was Antigua and Barbuda’s re-election to the Presiding Officers Board for the Regional Conference on Women for Latin America and the Caribbean. Antigua and Barbuda will serve as Vice President on the board alongside Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Uruguay under the Presidency of Chile. The board will act as the preparatory body for the upcoming Regional Conference on Women for Latin America and the Caribbean to be held in Argentina in 2022 and coordinate to manage many of the important review processes starting in 2020.
Additionally, Minister Marshall presented on several high-level panels and side events on the Montevideo Strategy and the Implementation of the Regional Gender Agenda within the Sustainable Development Framework by 2030, focusing on the specific priorities and concerns of the Caribbean, women in leadership and innovative solutions to address climate change and promote women’s economic empowerment in a changing region.
Minister Marshall joined with the organizers of the conference in recognizing that the year 2020 is a pivotal one for accelerating the realization of gender equality and the autonomy of all women and girls in the region. She highlighted the lived experiences and vulnerabilities of Small Island Developing States like Antigua and Barbuda, who stand on the frontline of the climate crisis and reiterated that these international commitments must serve us all well.
“The reality is, as we try to fulfill our commitments to the international and regional “gender agenda” and advocate for more recognition and stronger voices in these spaces, we are being faced with challenges that have been described as “unfamiliar, unprecedented and urgent.” We are constantly considering whether we will be impacted by tropical storms, hurricanes, droughts, floods, earthquakes and or tsunamis”, highlighted Minister Marshall.
“We need fiscal and policy space, access to financing, technical support, new technologies, the creation of new industries, and a new national development pathway to achieve sustainable development. We need solidarity and support from an international community that understands and recognizes our unique needs and realities.”
In response to the presentation made by the Caribbean Panel, Alicia Bárcena, ECLAC’s Executive Secretary, highlighted the need for Latin America to make a very firm commitment to stand in solidarity with the Caribbean in many fronts, especially considering the vulnerability of the Caribbean to climate change. She also spoke about concrete measures that UN ECLAC is promoting to support Small Island Developing States. These include a debt for climate adaptation swap initiative and the creation of a resilience fund for each country to manage, as well as an appeal to the international community to agree for Small Island Developing States to have free access to technology for innovative solutions to the unique challenges posed by climate change.
At a side event hosted by ParlAmericas in collaboration with PAHO, UN Women, CIM, UNDP, UN ECLAC, CIWIL, CAF, BID and CLADEM and the government of Canada, Antigua and Barbuda’s Support and Referral Centre and the Sexual Offences Model Court were highlighted as good practices in the Caribbean region to address gender-based violence. In her remarks, Minister Marshall signaled the need for women in leadership to create spaces to promote the leadership and participation of younger women in decision-making.
The delegation participated in the negotiations on the Santiago Commitment in harmony with the other Caribbean countries and Latin American member States. The Santiago commitment will be implemented in synergy with the Regional Gender Agenda, the Beijing Declaration, and Platform for Action and the 2030 Sustainable Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Participating in the gathering in Santiago were representatives of government from Latin America and the Caribbean, civil society organizations, the academic sector, intergovernmental agencies, and the United Nations system.