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DSG/SM/1496
31 October 2020

Amid Rising Violence against Women, Girls, Spotlight Initiative Investing $4 Million to End Scourge in Guyana, Deputy Secretary-General Tells Country Programme Event

Following is the text of UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed’s video message on the occasion of the Spotlight Initiative high-level launch event for the Guyana country programme titled “Sustainable Development Goals Decade of Action — End Gender-based Violence and Family Violence for Unity, Equality and Dignity in Guyana”, held today:

Excellencies, dear friends,

It is a pleasure to join you to launch the Spotlight Initiative in Guyana, alongside His Excellency President Irfaan Ali and Marjeta Jager, European Union Deputy Director-General for International Cooperation and Development.

The United Nations has just marked its seventy-fifth anniversary amidst a global pandemic.  In January, we launched the Decade of Action for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with the ambition to accelerate implementation.  We also started a year that marked the 25-year anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action, its ambitions for women’s rights and gender equality reflected in SDG 5 and across all goals.

Only a month later, however, COVID-19 loomed, a crisis that now threatens to reverse hard-fought gains.  Guyanese have experienced hardships and uncertainties as a result of this crisis.  The recent elections also proved to be a challenging test for the country.  In this context, there is an urgent need to accelerate efforts towards equality, respect and inclusion, built on consensus, dialogue and the rule of law.

As the Secretary-General shared last month during the SDG Moment, even in the face of the most difficult crisis endured in a generation, transformation is still possible.  We have what it takes to eradicate poverty and hunger, tackle climate change, deliver gender equality and achieve all 17 global goals.  We need concerted and strategic action.

These goals, however, will remain elusive until each of us can live a life free of violence, fear and insecurity.  Violence against women and girls poses a grave threat to sustainable and inclusive development, to the fulfilment of human rights, and to our hopes of building peaceful societies on a healthy planet.  And now the COVID-19 pandemic has widened gender inequalities everywhere and led to exponential growth in gender-based violence.

Guyana has been no exception to this alarming surge.  Indeed, violence has escalated from levels that were already among the highest of any country in the Caribbean and Latin America.

The Spotlight Initiative, launched in 2017 by the European Union and United Nations, can be an important part of the picture.  It will join and complement existing action to end gender-based violence and family violence in Guyana, by supporting efforts led by civil society and women´s rights movements that have always been at the vanguard of change.

With $4 million from the European Union, the Initiative is making a sizable investment to advance gender equality and to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls in Guyana by 2030.  The United Nations is committed to supporting the Government, the institutions and the people of Guyana, in collaboration with all relevant stakeholders, in this vital work.  Thank you.

For information media. Not an official record.