Denise E Antonio, UNDP Resident Representative


H.E Mrs. Patricia Minnis

Spouse of the Prime Minister of The Bahamas and incoming Chairperson of SCLAN


H.E. Mrs. Rossana Briceño

Spouse of the Prime Minister of Belize and the new Special Envoy for the Development of Families and Children


H.E. Mrs. Sharon Rowley

Spouse of the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago


Mrs. Kim Simplis Barrow

Former Chairperson of SCLAN


Ms. Alison Drayton

Representative, Caribbean Office, United Nations Population Fund


Dr. Edward Greene

Chancellor, University of Guyana

Mrs. Claire Bruce

Deputy High Commissioner, British High Commission in Belize

Mrs. Jacqueline Dragone, Executive Director of SCLAN


Ms. Elizabeth Ivanovich

Director of Global Health, United Nations Foundation


Mrs. Elizabeth Murray

Executive Director Latin America Access, Gilead Sciences Inc.


Members of the media


Ladies and gentlemen

On behalf of the United Nations Development Programme, let me thank you for inviting me to participate in this handing over ceremony marking the change in leadership of the Spouses of CARICOM Leaders Action Network (SCLAN).


UNDP is the leading United Nations organization fighting to end the injustice of Poverty, Inequality, and Climate Change. Working with our broad network of experts and partners in 170 countries, we help nations to build integrated, lasting solutions for people and planet. All our work is built on the principles of reaching the farthest and most vulnerable first so that no one is left behind.  Therefore, you can imagine that the strengthening of gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls to end persistent inequalities and their structural causes and discriminatory practices that perpetuate them is of paramount significance across all areas in which we work.



Critical to realising national goals and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals are the partnerships we build locally, regionally, and internationally.   As such, much of UNDP’s work involves partnering with governments, civil society organizations, other development partners, IFIs, private sectors and the like.    South-South Cooperation is also a critical part of our work as we continue to support in knowledge sharing and learning from best practices.  Therefore, engaging with SCLAN is entirely consistent with our work and is already demonstrating potential as the organization has committed to work with UNDP through the European Union and UN partnership, Spotlight Initiative, to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls by 2030 in Belize.  A key area of focus will include:

o   Engaging men in critical reflection on rigid gender norms which perpetrate inequitable power relations between women and men and supporting the modelling of positive behaviours and masculinity through the positive deviance approach.


Support also included the SCLAN hosted virtual side event at the 75th UNGA last September entitled "Engaging Men and Boys to Advance Gender Equality". The Forum was designed to mobilize First Ladies to advocate for the development of projects and programs that will help engage men and boys to advance gender equality. Notably, this well-attended event included remarks from several First Ladies from other regions such as Africa and Latin America.


As I come to the close of my remarks, I would like to leave you with two quotes:

The first is from the UN Secretary General António Guterres in November 2020 in his remarks to commemorate the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and to launch the annual 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence campaign in which he says: “Millions of women are being pushed further into poverty by the COVID-19 crisis, and all forms of violence against them are rising.  In this context, the global community must continue to build on the momentum we have created to prioritize the voices, experiences and needs of women and girls.”


The 2nd is from the remarks made at the UNGA Side event from  the outgoing Chairperson, Mrs. Kim Simplis-Barrow that , “The goal is to build a coalition of leaders who are committed to the cause but also to build capacity of men and boys in terms of skills, knowledge and attitude on gender equality, child protection and positive parenting. “


We are confident that the eminent first ladies of SCLAN possess the platform and the passion to play a transformative role in shaping narratives and social norms that will amplify the voices of our most vulnerable, while building on the global momentum to eliminate violence against women and girls. UNDP looks forward to deepening our partnership on this shared vision.


In closing, I wish to thank Mrs. Simplis Barrow for her leadership and welcome Mrs. Minnis as the incoming chairperson as she takes over the mantle of leadership.


Ladies and gentlemen, I thank you.


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