Spouses of Heads of Government of the Caribbean round table meeting

24 August 2015

Spouses of Heads of Government of the Caribbean attending the round table meeting, “A Call to Action: Adolescent Pregnancy in the Caribbean,” held in Belize on June 25, established a Network of Spouses of Heads of Government of the Caribbean to champion the reduction of adolescent pregnancy in the region. The meeting was hosted by Mrs. Kim Simplis Barrow, the Special Envoy for Women and Children and Spouse of the Prime Minister of Belize, in association with the UNFPA Sub-Regional Office for the Caribbean. 

The Spouses identified a range of actions that Governments can take to support the implementation of the CARICOM - approved Integrated Strategic Framework for the Reduction of Adolescent Pregnancy. These include standardization of a specific learning program for Health and Family Life Education (HFLE), heightened focus on early childhood education; access to reproductive health services; and increased attention to out of school youth. They also recommended increased engagement of faith-based organizations (FBOs) in addressing the issue of adolescent pregnancy; consideration for cultural barriers and engagement of the various populations in the search for solutions; and greater encouragement and support for the reintegration of young mothers into the educational system.

Additionally, the spouses recommended strategic partnerships with key UN and other international partners including UNICEF, PAHO/WHO and committed themselves to advance the goal through a range of advocacy and communication initiatives.
The Network of Spouses of Heads of Government in the Caribbean includes Mrs. Kim Simplis Barrow, wife of the Prime Minister of Belize, H.E. Mrs. Sandra Granger, First Lady of Guyana, H.E. Mrs. Reema Harry-Singh Carmona, First Lady of Trinidad and Tobago and Senator, the Hon. Senator Sandrea Falconer representing the Office of the Prime Minister of Jamaica.

It is estimated that around 20% of women in the Caribbean have had at least one child by the age of 19. This poses major health and development challenges for the region. This is why the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has made the reduction of adolescent pregnancy a priority. The CARICOM secretariat with support from UNFPA has developed a Strategy and Plan to reduce the number of adolescent pregnancies in each country of the English- and Dutch speaking Caribbean by at least 20 % over the five year period 2014 – 2019.