Spouses of CARICOM Heads launch network on health, wellness

First Ladies and Spouses of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) have launched  a network to fight issues related to the health and wellbeing  of women, adolescents and children.

A release from the CARICOM Secretariat yesterday said that Spouses of Caribbean Leaders Action Network (SCLAN) is the advocacy and action platform to advance the Every Caribbean Women Every Caribbean Child (ECWECC) initiative, now re-branded Caribbean Woman Caribbean Child (CariWaC).

Members of the Spouses of Caribbean Leaders Action Network at the launch. Guyana’s First Lady, Mrs Sandra Granger is at right.

Kim Simplis Barrow, spouse of Dean Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize and Special Envoy for Women and Children in Belize, was elected as the first Chair of the Network, while Mrs Sandra Granger, First Lady of Guyana, was elected its Vice Chair. Other members of the executive body are: Reema Carmona (Trinidad and Tobago); Martine Moise (Haiti); and Juliet Holness (Jamaica).  Also at the launch were: Maria Browne (Antigua & Barbuda) and Sybilene Patricia Minnis (The Bahamas).

The release said that SCLAN will champion the CariWaC Initiative which has declared four major pillars for action:  reducing gender-based violence, lowering adolescent pregnancy, eliminating cervical cancer and ending mother to child transmission of HIV and congenital syphilis.

Speaking at the opening of the meeting held in Belize City on September 5-6, Mrs Simplis Barrow noted the “unique position” of First Ladies and Spouses to forward the initiative.

“We will be able to foster greater synergies as we champion action to achieve the goals and objectives of CariWaC”, she said.

“We have the unique opportunity to become catalysts for change, leverage networks and influence the decision making process at the highest level of government”, she added.

Mrs. Simplis Barrow said that  the First Ladies have agreed that SCLAN’s “first order of business” is to bring the other CARICOM spouses on board.

The launch of the network is a culmination of two years of engagement in relation to the CariWaC initiative which has been endorsed by CARICOM Heads of Government. Since its inception, the release said that CariWaC has continued to receive support from CARICOM, UNFPA and other UN agencies. A strong partnership has also been struck up with Gilead Sciences Inc. in advancing this initiative.

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