By RICARDO WELLS
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE Bahamas’ National Strategic Plan on Gender-based Violence has been hailed as demonstrating the government is serious about tackling the issue by the United Nations’ Entity for Gender Equality (UN Women) during a high level, multi-sector consultation forum in New Providence this week.
On Friday, Social Services Minister Melanie Griffin, whose ministry spearheaded the conference, stressed that the eradication of gender-based violence in the country is not an issue that can be properly resolved through actions by one ministry but a shared responsibility across departments.
Tonni Brodber, UN Women’s Deputy Representative for the Caribbean, told The Tribune that her office has been impressed by the local effort displayed to date, insisting that the multi-sector approach by the government shows an immense understanding of the scope of the issue.
On February 15, a report produced by the National Task Force on Gender-based Violence in the Bahamas was presented to Prime Minister Perry Christie and tabled in the House of Assembly on February 24.
The forum also features representatives from the Ministries of Education, Health, Finance and Youth, Sports and Culture. Legislative representatives from the Office of the Attorney’s General have also participated in the forum, which aims to set up draft a plan that will, in time, move the proposals “from paper to action”, Mrs Griffin said.
The team is working on a results and resources framework that would take the contents of the plan and represent it as goals to be achieved in set timeframes. “The 10 Low-lying Fruit”, as it is being called by officials, will address ten specific programmes identified by the government as key initiatives that can be achieved “almost immediately” through the various government agencies.
Proposals described to the Tribune highlighted a wealth of educational programmes to be presented in schools, public awareness and social campaigns through various government offices.
The Bahamas is working to advance gender equality as mandated through universal agreements like the United Nation’s Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).
Intrigued by the “vast possibilities” offered by the forum, UN Women representatives said the two-day event “demonstrates that the government of the Bahamas is serious and ready to take action around gender based violence”. Mrs Brodber told the forum the success of “The 10 Low-lying Fruit” concept, if successful, can signal to other countries how to successfully go about ending gender-based violence.
“In other countries, when programmes are implemented in this way, they become a better practice example for the rest of the world,” she said. “This will speak to all the better practices that we see around the world that are useful in reducing or ending gender-based violence. It shows the world that when the Commonwealth of the Bahamas says it is going to do something it is going to get it done.”
Mrs Brodber said the effectiveness of the Bahamas Crisis Centre has prompted other Caribbean countries to ask about its origins and mandate in an effort to replicate its success in their respective countries.
The Prime Minister is expected to be presented with a formal copy of the implementation plan in the coming weeks. The government is expected to allocated funding towards various projects aimed at eradicating gender-based violence.