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First Ladies from across the Caribbean converged in Belize

Today the CARICOM First Ladies/Spouses Network was launched in Belize. The Network sees the unison of the wives of Caribbean state leaders to focus on addressing four key areas within the Caribbean. Dalila Ical reports.

First Lady, Kim Simpliss Barrow

“Through the efforts of regional organizations we were encouraged to create a network of first ladies and spouses. It’s been several meetings to sort of align our initiatives to the 2020 and 2030 goals which are in line with the gender equality and sustainable development goals. We realize that in the Caribbean we have a huge problem when it comes to these four areas; adolescent pregnancy, HIV AIDS, gender based violence and cervical cancer and so we decided to focus on those four initiatives in the Caribbean where we are all going to put as much as we possibly can in addressing these issues throughout the region.”

Reporter: Does this network include the participation of all first ladies and spouses of the Caribbean countries?

First Lady, Kim Simpliss Barrow

“All the first ladies and spouses were invited to the meeting. Of course given the situation that there is a hurricane out there we are really lucky to have seven including myself here but yes to give you an answer yes we have roped everyone in and they are all part of it. We are hoping that it will be a very robust network of first ladies and that we will be able to work towards achieving our objectives.”


First Lady, Kim Simpliss Barrow

“We recognized that by coming together in a region with limited resources we could pool our ideas and our efforts and come up with something that could be a benefit to the Caribbean working in collaboration with our partners the UNFPA CARICOM Secretariat who kind of initiated the process so it has been evolving we have been sharing ideas, we have been working on our specific interest but as well as looking at how these impact our women and children and recognizing the necessity of getting our men and boys involved in the process so they buy in and work with the process to move the initiative forward.”


“How do you ensure, because you have different organizations as well that work in these areas that you plan to target, how do you ensure that the work is not duplicated? How do you ensure that your target population is the right one?”

First Lady, Kim Simpliss Barrow

“Well I think there are other organizations who might do some of the things that we are doing from discussions I am dealing with the professionals I am not running off with big ideas and no connection and we are talking to other agencies, we sit down and discuss with them of course the secretariat has the contacts with the different regional and national agencies and UNFPA so we do work in collaboration with other agencies and institutions so that we know what is going on at home and in the region and we can sit down and work out what might be best for our countries because we also have to think of what resources we have available at home. So many of our countries are highly indebted how do we take the money that they have and spend it across all the many needs of the country? Social services will have to be cut if you’re looking at the debt situation and I think that the last report that I read eleven of the thirteen independent member states of CARICOM had very high levels of debt so we have to think of these things. While we are also thinking of what we would like to achieve in terms the social and economic benefits of our women and children.

The two day event includes the participation of the First ladies of Trinidad & Tobago, Haiti, and the spouse of the Prime Minister of Bahamas, Antigua & Barbuda, Jamaica and Belize.