PRESS RELEASE: The observance of International Women’s Day is more significant than ever in 2018. From well-organized marches to workshops and events in our region, women continue to make their fight for equality in health, economics, politics among others a very relevant part of our daily discussions. While progress has been made since the days of the suffragettes, there is still work to be done.
I endorse the 2018 theme “press for progress” as the World Economic Forum’s 2017 Global Gender Gap Report findings revealed that gender parity is over 200 years away. This makes it even more critical for women and men to sincerely support advocating for equal pay and especially more access to health and sexual reproductive services. There has never been a more important time to keep motivated and find ways of removing barriers to fast-tracking equal access for women.
In 2014, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) called on Caribbean countries to guarantee all women access to essential health services and interventions. Have we heeded this call? Are we adequately vigilant that our women and girls are receiving equal access to health care services? These are questions that we should be constantly examining, not just on International Women’s Day, but at every opportunity possible in recognition that women and girls have invaluable contributions to make to our society.
The right to health for women and girls forms a fundamental aspect of the PANCAP Justice for All Roadmap, as we believe that no society can truly progress without equal access to health services by all. This concept is also at the heart of PANCAP’s Vision: An AIDS-Free Caribbean. Indeed, fast-tracking the 90-90-90 goals cannot be achieved without adequate focus on ensuring women and girls have equal access to sexual and reproductive health services.
I reflect on the launch of the “Spouses of Caribbean Leaders Action Network (SCLAN)” in September 2017 to tackle issues related to the health and well-being of women, adolescents and children in the Caribbean. This advocacy and action platform is advancing the ‘Caribbean Woman Caribbean Child’ (CariWaC) initiative in its championing of four major pillars: reducing gender-based violence, reducing adolescent pregnancy, eliminating cervical cancer and eliminating mother to child transmission of HIV and syphilis.
By championing CariWaC’s four pillars, the Spouses of Caribbean Leaders have signaled their commitment to press for progress. We must support SCLAN to enable women and girls to have access to life-saving services, including HIV prevention and care, thereby achieving their potential.
I salute women, girls and men across our region and the world, who have committed to “press for progress”.