(July 12, 2013) Government representatives and officials attending the Sixteenth Meeting of the Monitoring Committee of the Caribbean Development and Cooperation Committee of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), on Thursday July 11 adopted a set of recommendations on priority issues identified by delegates who attended the Caribbean Forum on Population, Migration and Development, held in Guyana, July 9-10.
The range of proposals included actions to reduce poverty and inequality, promote and protect the rights of vulnerable groups, including older persons, adolescents and youth, and persons with disabilities. They also included suggestions for achieving gender equality, equity and empowerment of women; achieving universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights; and for managing migration for development to maximize the benefits and reduce the negative impacts.
The recommendations are contained in the outcome document of the meeting, entitled: The Road Map for Population, Migration and Development beyond 2014. They reflect priority concerns of government officials, stalwarts of civil society organizations and development experts from 21 Caribbean countries who attended the two-day sub-regional forum held at the International Conference Centre in Guyana.
The purpose of the recommendations is to provide inputs from the Caribbean to the First session of the Regional Conference on Population and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean, to be held in Montevideo, Uruguay, in August 2013 and the UN High - Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development scheduled to take place in October 2013.
Among the most far-reaching recommendations were calls to provide persons with disabilities with easy access to buildings and public spaces, as well as social protection, and to ensure economic security and access to social security for older persons. With respect to adolescents and youth, there were calls for universal access to affordable, quality, comprehensive education including formal, informal and vocational training, as well as age appropriate health and family life education for this group, promotion of national campaigns to eliminate violence against boys and girls and the development of national and regional strategies for second chance education and empowerment.
In the area of gender equality, the recommendation was made for governments to promote the increase of women's participation and leadership at all levels of decision- making, in both the public and private sectors; outlaw child marriage; strengthen legislation for the protection of women, girls and boys against sexual violence.
In migration, the recommendation was to ensure the human rights of migrants. A proposal was also made for harmonization of the implementation of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), and consideration establishment of a Caribbean forum on migration and development.
To achieve universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights, the delegates recommended that governments give the highest priority to the prevention of unwanted pregnancies through improving access to information, technologies, commodities and services.
They also recommended that governments collect, disaggregate, analyse, disseminate and translate data into strategic information to inform sexual and reproductive health policy formulation at all levels. The delegates strongly recommended that the achievement of sexual and reproductive health and rights be considered as a priority in the elaboration of the post 2015 development agenda.
The Road Map builds on the findings from an extensive survey on the ICPD progress and challenges carried out among Caribbean countries and contained in the report on the review of the Implementation of the Cairo Programme of Action in the Caribbean sub-region. The report, which was prepared by ECLAC was launched at the meeting.
Esteban Caballero, UNFPA Deputy Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, in an address to the Monitoring Committee, reiterated the call for universal access to sexual and reproductive health services with special emphasis on people at risk of exclusion and poverty.
"Clearly, women do experience further deterioration in their health due to the inability to access and afford care in reproductive health, maternal health and, particularly, obstetric care. Efforts should be intensified to secure funding and ensure access to quality basic sexual and reproductive health services, and ensure the full exercise of sexual and reproductive rights," he declared.
Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary, ECLAC, noted that the middle income classification of Caribbean countries, excluding Haiti, does not take account of the high levels of inequality, and economic, social and environmental vulnerabilities of these states. Given this fact, it was critical she said, for the specificities of the Caribbean to be reflected in the final outcome document for the ICPD beyond 2014 and the post 2015 development agenda.
The meeting was organized by ECLAC, CARICOM and the Government of Guyana with support from UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund.
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