Basseterre, St. Kitts, October 12, 2022 (SKNIS): The Government of St. Kitts and Nevis is strengthening it’s response to gender-based violence by pursuing a multi-pronged approach that will tackle system and cultural reforms.
On Wednesday, October 12, 2022, Junior Minister and Minister responsible for Social Development and Gender Affairs, the Honourable Isalean Phillip, shared some of the reforms taken as she addressed the 83rd Session for the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). The October 10-28 meeting is being held in Geneva, Switzerland.
“To improve in this area, the Department of Gender Affairs has taken the initiative to build stronger relationships with the [police’s] Special Victim’s Unit (SVU), and support the unit’s efforts to increase capacity by recruiting and training more officers in gender-sensitive response and investigation practices,” Minister Phillip stated. “To extend this work, Gender Affairs also plans to build its own staff capacity in order to provide the expertise and curriculum that facilitates consistent and sustainable gender-sensitive training to all police officers as part of mandatory training programmes.”
The improvement in the reporting of domestic abuse cases to local law enforcement is critical given the rise in domestic conflict cases in the post COVID era.
Minister Phillip stated that the twin-island Federation’s Constitution and legislative framework prohibits any form of discrimination, based on sex, and there are no laws legalizing discriminatory practices towards women. She added that various protections and agency responsibilities are also covered in the National Gender Policy and Action Plan.
“Gender mainstreaming will be coordinated across government ministries and programming. With the assistance of PAHO, a Gender Sensitization curriculum was revised for children under the age of 12, and a three-day Gender Sensitization Training of Trainers was delivered to stakeholders in February 2022,” the minister said. “Seventeen persons from various government ministries and NGOs, including school counselors received this training. The gender-sensitive training curriculum is intended to teach children about appropriate behaviours when it comes to issues of sexual conduct, the importance of consent and how to recognize and report experiences of molestation, harm or abuse.”
In addition to presenting the State Report to the UN committee, the junior minister responded to questions and will explore avenues to enhance UN support for local gender-related initiatives.