KINGSTON, Jamaica – The inaugural Caribbean Youth Summit (CYS) gets underway in Jamaica on Wednesday providing Caribbean youths with an opportunity to engage in capacity building methods to mitigate community violence, gender-based violence (GBV), sexual and reproductive health (SRH) and mental health challenges.
The three day summit is taking place during the “Year of Youth”, declared in early 2023 by the Commonwealth under the theme “ Securing Our Future: Youth Co-Creating a Peaceful and Sustainable Caribbean Community against GBV”.
The organsiers said the summit will seek to provide a platform for young people to brainstorm strategies to secure the involvement of other community youth leaders in promoting prevention of GBV.
It will also seek to strengthen youth’s socio-emotional capacity to address challenges associated with violence, SRH and mental health. The CYS will provide a platform for young people to share their experiences, ideas, and best practices on peace, security, safety, and sustainable development in the Caribbean.
In addition, young people will develop recommendations for strengthening policies and programmes to address GBV, safety and security and strategies for dealing with mental health challenges experienced by young women, men, and girls in the region.
Deputy Programme Manager, Youth Development at the Guyana-based Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat, Michele Small-Bartley said ,another key objective of the summit is to align the region’s youth development efforts with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
She referred specifically to SDG 5, which is to achieve gender equality by ending all forms of discrimination, violence and any harmful practices against women and girls.
She said the initiative seeks to create synergy with the CARICOM Youth Development Goals, Caribbean Development Bank Youth Policy and Operational Strategy, and the UNFPA Youth Strategy, “My Body, My Life, My World!”
Small-Bartley said that the critical outcome of the summit would be the design of an integrated Roadmap that identifies the strategies and actions to address regional and national issues associated with peace, security, and safety for youth and generate positive social and gender norm changes to prevent violence.
She said the development of the Roadmap is based on the CARICOM Youth Development Action Plan (CYDAP), which aims to create a conducive environment for young people to build skills and resilience in the face of challenges related to gender-based violence, sexual and reproductive health, and mental health.
The CARICOM Secretariat official said that this is especially crucial because of the increased psychological and emotional health issues resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Small-Bartley also cited a United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) study, which discovered that homicide was responsible for around one in 10 deaths among children and adolescents in the region and is the leading cause of death among adolescents aged 10 to 19.
The study also indicated that the five countries with the highest homicide rates among children and adolescents worldwide are all located in Latin America and the Caribbean.
”The time to act is certainly now, we hope that the Summit brings us one step closer to realising the Region’s vision of a secure, healthy and violence-free future for Caribbean youth,” she added.