The Caribbean Community has agreed on a set of minimum standards to guide the production of high-quality data on violence against women and girls which can be used to address this scourge.
The CARICOM Agreed Minimum Standards for the Management of Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) Administrative Data were approved at a workshop in mid-September in Trinidad and Tobago. The CARICOM Secretariat, through its Regional Statistics Programme, the Gender and Development Programme of the Human and Social Development Directorate, and the UN Women Multi-Country Office for the Caribbean on the Regional Spotlight Initiative, partnered to host the workshop.
Member States have comprehensively reviewed the Standards which will be submitted to the Standing Committee of Caribbean Statisticians (SCCS).
Ms. Tonni Ann Brodber, Representative, UN Women Multi-Country Office – Caribbean, explained that administrative data on violence against women and girls is data that is collected when survivors and perpetrators of violence interact with service providers such as hotlines, the police, shelters, and the court and health systems.
“The collection and the use of high-quality violence against girls and women administrative data is crucial to inform the policies and programmes developed by governments and civil society to effectively respond and prevent violence against women and girls. The violence against women and girls administrative data can tell us which survivors are actually seeking services because of the violence that they are experiencing and why; the estimated need for the services and the cost; understanding the need for what kind of training is required for service providers…; how can we monitor the service delivery to hold ourselves accountable and the outcomes insight for how we can improve quality and identify unmet needs,” Ms. Brodber said.
Mr. Halim Brizan, Director, Regional Statistics at the CARICOM Secretariat made remarks at the opening of the training workshop on 11 September, and highlighted the importance of the Standards.
“It is… clear that these Minimum Standards can promote regional integration through the production of high quality, harmonised and comparable statistics on Gender Based Violence against women and girls. This type of data should not be viewed as just mere statistics. It is a beacon of hope for those who suffer in silence, and thus a critical tool for us to effect positive change. Everyone deserves a life free from violence and discrimination with opportunities to realise their true potential.
“It is extremely important that these Standards are followed to ensure the production of accurate and reliable statistics which would result in the optimal use of the region’s scarce resources. It is also important that our governments allocate the much-needed resources to ensure the sustainable production of this data in the region, as the lack thereof can impede policymakers’ response to eradicating this social ill,” he said.
His Excellency, Peter Cavendish, Ambassador, Head of the European Union Delegation to Trinidad and Tobago, emphasised eliminating violence against women and girls, and underlined the need for evidence-based decision-making.
“We know that when women are more empowered, when women are more active in our societies, everybody in society benefits and violence against women and girls is disempowering women. We have to have more powerful women in our society, more enabled women for us moving forward,” he said.
Ms. Shelley-Ann Hart, Director of the Gender Affairs Division of Trinidad and Tobago said the response to violence must be proactive “because our end goal is to END Violence Against Women and Girls. So, you do not just provide our technical teams with STATISTICS. You provide a pathway to a world free of violence!”
Speaking on behalf of the Hon. Ayana Webster -Roy, Minister with responsibility for Gender and Child Affairs, Ms. Hart said data on violence against women and girls can help to determine whether services are efficiently serving target groups so no one is left behind; and if it aids in improving services, programme delivery and resource allocation. Such information can also determine if gaps in administrative and implementing systems are closed which “further feed into laws, policies and programmes that secure the safety of our women and girls, support survivors and ensure justice is served in holding perpetrators accountable.”
The workshop was part of the Regional Spotlight initiative, which focuses on access to administrative data, particularly developing and strengthening regional protocols and standards for family violence data management systems to improve timely and cross-sectoral analyses and programmatic responses at the national level.
Workshop participants from across the region also spent three days in-person teaching and sharing on advances and challenges in gender statistics. The Gender and Indicators Training Course for CARICOM Statistical Offices was the last in a series geared at expanding skillsets in the region for the production, management, dissemination and utilisation of VAWG data. The training was a collaborative effort among the CARICOM Secretariat, the Gender Affairs Division of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), and UN Women within the framework of the regional project Women Count for Latin America and the Caribbean.