Prime Minister Andrew Holness launched the Spotlight Initiative for Jamaica on March 9. The Spotlight Initiative is a collaborative effort to combat the country’s alarming levels of violence against women and girls. It is funded by the European Union (EU), with contributions from the United Nations (UN).
In Jamaica, the Spotlight Initiative will invest 8 million Euro over three years on a range of efforts – focused on four parishes – to prevent and reduce family violence, which mostly affects girls and women. Family violence refers to acts of abuse and aggression in family or close-knit relationships. This includes domestic violence, intimate partner violence, child sexual abuse and corporal punishment.
Speaking at the launch at the Office of the Prime Minister, Mr. Holness said the elimination of violence against women and girls is a high priority objective of the government of Jamaica and essential to the realization of Vision 2030 – the country's national development plan.
He said further that Spotlight Initiative will contribute to transforming the Jamaican society into one where women and girls can thrive, free of any violence towards them.
"It will focus on addressing the issue of normalization of violence in Jamaica and encourage society to see family violence as a serious public issue requiring consistent and concerted effort to address," Mr. Holness said.
The Spotlight Initiative will focus its intervention in Kingston and St. Andrew, St. Thomas, Clarendon, and Westmoreland, four parishes that have been determined to have high levels of violence towards women and girls.
The high-level launch brought together senior government officials, Members of Parliament, representatives of the European Union, the United Nations and civil society organisations, as well as officials from the private sector, the media among others.
Director for Latin America and the Caribbean at the European Union with responsibility for International Cooperation and Development, Jolita Butkevicience said key to solving the problem of gender based violence is government's ownership of the programme aimed at its elimination.
"No amount of money in the world will solve the problem; the problem has to be appropriated and solved by Jamaica and if the government is not committed, we will not advance much and certainly with Jamaica (as we see today with its leadership) is the country that we believe and I think the programme is placing the trust in the government that we can make a difference," she stated.
She stressed the EU's commitment to gender equality and women's empowerment as one of the key reasons why the EU has teamed up with the UN and Government of Jamaica and committed substantial funding to address the problem.
Jamaica is one of six Caribbean countries that have been selected to benefit from a specific country allocation to respond to family violence under the Spotlight Initiative. Other countries include Belize, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, and Trinidad and Tobago.
(L-R): Kamina Johnson Smith, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade; Juliet Holness, Member of Parliament, and wife of the prime minister; Jolita Butkeviciene, Director for Latin America and Caribbean at the European Commission; Malgorzata Wasilewska, EU Ambassador; Denys Wibaux, French Ambassador and Hugo Verbist, Belgian Ambassador.