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Sep 5, 2017

CARICOM’s First Ladies and Spouses Team Up

A few years ago a special group of women from across the Caribbean gathered to launch a campaign against teenage pregnancy. They are the spouses and partners of the Caribbean’s heads of state and government, and thus very close to the center of power. After successive meetings, today in Belize City, led by Belize’s Special Envoy for Women and Children, they took the step of formalizing their partnership on critical regional issues, anticipating success. Aaron Humes has more from the Radisson Hotel.


Aaron Humes, Reporting

They occupy a privileged position in their respective countries and the region – the closest confidants of the men who hold power. In turn, they have organized to use their powers for the good of vulnerable populations – those afflicted by teenage pregnancy, cervical cancer, HIV/AIDS and gender-based violence.


Kim Simplis-Barrow

Kim Simplis-Barrow, Special Envoy for Women and Children

“We decided that to make a bigger impact, we should form this network, of course with guidance from our regional offices and regional U.N. agencies, that we should form this network so that we can work together to make greater impact and so we are here today to launch the Network of First Ladies so that we can. Today we will be putting together, fine-tuning the T.O.R. (terms of reference) and the other documents that we will be working with.”


Some members of the new group have been more active than others, but first lady of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, Sandra Granger, says that while political power is transitive, the issues to be addressed are not going away – unless there is concerted effort.


Sandra Granger

Sandra Granger, First Lady of Guyana

“First of all, we’re only going to be here for a specific time while our husbands might be in the positions which they are. And I think we are looking for is beyond that – what do we leave behind? How do we continue in our own capacities, beyond the political life, to follow up and achieve the objectives which are for the benefit of our respective countries? We will have differences, different focuses sometimes, but we do have a common interest in the fact that the Caribbean has the highest level of teenage pregnancy after sub-Saharan Africa, and that is not a statistic with which we are comfortable. We have to look on how we bring these things down, because it also impacts the health issues that affect our young girls, our women. If they have repeat pregnancies it’s also a toll on them; if they have multiple partners, it’s HPV, cervical cancer; if you have girls who are trafficked, they can also be exposed. So it’s all coming together in a confluence of priorities that coalesce as our teenage pregnancy reduction, as one, and also looking at how we improve the health of our population, which also means getting our young men involved.”


But how will their successes be measured? In Belize, said Simplis-Barrow, that work is continuous.


Kim Simplis-Barrow

“My work continues. I’m working with education, with health, human development. What we try to do is to get funding that will impact the entire Caribbean, in terms of implementing programs; in terms of putting out information that is accurate in terms of HPV vaccine, in terms of reducing HIV/AIDS, all of those things; but our work locally will continue as is. In fact, we have put in for funding for Belize itself; and so our work will continue here in Belize.”


Aaron Humes reporting for News Five.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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1 Response for “CARICOM’s First Ladies and Spouses Team Up”

  1. Rose says:

    After all these years this Lady still cant get it into her head that she is not a first lady??? Her husband and all those who hold the office of prime minister are not Heads of State. They are Heads of Government – BIG DIFFERENCE. The Head of State for all Commonwealth countries, of which Belize is one, is QUEEN ELIZABETH II.

    When your husband is a Head of State, then you can call yourself a First Lady

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