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Georgetown, Guyana – (February 16, 2017) First Lady, Mrs. Sandra Granger, this morning, hosted a working breakfast for Caribbean Community (CARICOM) First Ladies who are in Guyana to accompany their spouses to the 28th Inter-sessional Meeting of the Heads of Government. The event was also attended by Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Mr. Gatson Browne along with some Foreign Ministers and delegates from the visiting countries. The event was hosted under the theme ‘Every Caribbean Woman – Every Caribbean Child’ at the Guyana Marriott Hotel in Georgetown.

The First Ladies attending the event were Mrs. Reema Carmona of Trinidad and Tobago, Mrs. Martine Marie Etienne Joseph of Haiti and Mrs. Kim Simplis Barrow of Belize. Accompanying the First Lady of Guyana was Minister of Social Protection, Ms. Amna Ally.

In her remarks, Mrs. Granger emphasised the need for the region to place emphasis on issues affecting women and children. “Our purpose today is to agree on priorities and strategies to be employed as we move forward on the Every Caribbean Woman, Every Caribbean Child initiative, with its focus on the reduction of teenage pregnancy, cervical cancer, gender based violence, trafficking in person and the elimination of mother to child transmission of HIV in the Caribbean,” Mrs. Granger said.

First Lady, Mrs. Sandra Granger and Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Mr. Gaston Browne in conversation at the working breakfast at the Marriott Hotel.

The Every Caribbean Girl – Every Caribbean Woman Initiative is intended to address key sexual and reproductive health concerns of girls and women in the Caribbean. Mrs. Granger noted that the platforms provided by the First Ladies will be used for the sharing of knowledge and experience that can impact the policy direction for the good of women and children in countries across the region. “Our decisions will guide the technical meeting, which follows this forum in the development of a framework and modalities for attaining our objectives and assistance to take out commitment forward to the Clinton Global initiative in March of this year,” Mrs. Ganger said.

Meanwhile Prime Minister Gatson Browne said that it is evident that immediate action is needed to address issues facing women and children in the Caribbean. “It is indeed not flattering to the region to know that we have a number of excesses, that some Caribbean countries are in the top 10 for reported violence of women and girls and that our ratings for raping and incest are equally high. In addition, teenage pregnancies remain suddenly high and rates of cervical cancer result in the sudden deaths of our women. So clearly we have to redouble our efforts to address these issues,” Minister Browne said.

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First Lady, Mrs. Sandra Granger is chatting with First Lady of Trinidad and Tobago, Mrs. Reema Carmona (left) and Senior Vice President of GILEAD Science Incorporated, Mr. Clifford Samuel.

Mrs. Barrow, wife of the Prime Minister of Belize, Mr. Dean Barrow said that the forum serves to create opportunities for a core group of women, who share, similar interests to come together for the betterment of the Caribbean as a whole. “I know we share the same beliefs that we can improve the lives of our Caribbean women and children by promoting partnerships, coordination and coherence in efforts within the region, which will seek to address the barriers that impede the full enjoyment of rights,” Mrs. Barrow said.

The Belizian First Lady also said that since her appointment as Special Envoy for Women and Children in Belize she has been given the opportunity to work with a number of Governmental and Non-Governmental organisations to advance the rights of women and children in the areas of health, education, protection against violence, social protection, gender equality and women’s economic empowerment in her country.

“I believe that as Caribbean countries it is imperative that we become very proactive about [our] partnerships. We are classified as middle income countries and so we need to be capable of getting by without assistance,” Mrs. Barrow said. She also said that it takes a collective effort to arrive at the consensus needed for regional development and that each Head of state plays a pivotal role in this development.

Representatives from several governmental and non-governmental organisations including the, representatives from the Ministry of Public Health, United Nations (UN), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), Family Planning Association (FPA) of Trinidad and Tobago, Caribbean Coalition on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (CCSRHR), Women Across Difference (WAD), Guyana Responsible Parenthood Association (GRPA), and other Caribbean organisations were also present at the Ceremony. Also speaking at the event was Senior Vice President of GILEAD Science Incorporated Mr. Clifford Samuel.

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