The Caribbean Observatory on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR)
The Caribbean Observatory on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (also called the SRHR Observatory) was launched in September 2021 under Pillar 3 of the Spotlight Initiative Regional Programme to contribute to “strengthening regional cooperation to prevent and respond to family violence in the Caribbean”. It is hosted by a regional civil society organisation (CSO), the Caribbean Family Planning Affiliation (CFPA) and is aimed at strengthening the region’s positioning to deliver on key advocacy to eliminate GBV. The SRHR Observatory also seeks to promote SRHR through galvanising movements to advance legislative and policy changes, make programmatic linkages between gender-based violence (GBV) and SRHR, and ensuring that no one is left behind. It is an impetus for social monitoring and advocacy, providing timely and independent analysis and serves as an advocacy platform to address the high tolerance of GBV and to change the harmful social norms across the Caribbean. The SRHR Observatory will also help to improve access to, and uptake of both SRHR and GBV for vulnerable populations, and promote comprehensive and integrated SRHR/GBV in the region.
The Spotlight Initiative in the Caribbean
Launched in 2017, the Spotlight Initiative is a global initiative of the United Nations supported by the European Union aimed at eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls.
The Spotlight Initiative thematic focus in the Caribbean is the reduction in prevalence and incidence of family violence. Family violence includes physical, social, sexual, economic and psychological/emotional abuse and acts of aggression within relationships that are considered as family connections or akin to family. The definition is guided by the domestic violence legislation across the region and the Initiative will take a non-discriminatory approach in advancing a comprehensive approach for all regardless of social status, location, identity or sexual orientation.
The initiative recognises that family violence is a form of gender-based violence in which women and girls are disproportionately the victims. The initiative is concerned to address the root causes of this violence, that is, patriarchal and unequal gender norms and relations between women and men. Family violence negatively affects a range of human rights including women and girls’ enjoyment of sexual and reproductive rights. While the focus of Spotlight is on women and girls, the improved capacities of regional and national institutions to implement laws and policies, collect and analyse data and engage in prevention programming will benefit men and boys all of whom are affected by harmful stereotypes around masculinity.
The Spotlight Initiative is being implemented in Belize, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago. This regional programme benefits both Spotlight, and non-Spotlight Caribbean countries through the production of and access to regional public goods. It adds value, and contribute to the scale, sustainability, visibility, lessons learnt and replication of programming throughout the region. The Regional Component prioritises working with regional bodies, regional advocacy with CSO networks, transferring lessons learned and engaging in South-South and triangular cooperation. It addresses specific regional challenges that inhibit progress on the prevention of and response to violence against women and girls.
The Caribbean Family Planning Affiliation (CFPA)
The SRHR Observatory is set up and led by the Caribbean Family Planning Affiliation (CFPA) due to its positioning. Established in 1971, CFPA is a civil society organisation (CSO) with a strong regional presence, comprising 16 Member Association – twelve (12) Member Affiliates, four (4) Associate Members, and four (4) partner Family Planning Associations (FPAs), which are leading SRHR focused CSOs in the Caribbean. The Affiliates are: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Bahamas, Bermuda, Curacao, Dominica, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Martinique, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines; the Associates are: Barbados, Jamaica, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago; and Partner FPAs in Belize, Haiti and Guyana. CFPA’s regional positioning makes it a leading advocate for SRHR at all levels – community, national and regional.
The organisation’s mandate is to promote SRHR with particular focus on marginalised populations in the Caribbean region, providing SRH services, education and awareness, and advocacy to end decriminalisation against women, girls and key populations. CFPA has gained credibility for its expertise and campaigns that address a range of SRHR and gender equality issues. The organisation supports the rights of all persons, including youth and persons of diverse sexual orientation and gender identity, to make decisions about their bodies. CFPA works to promote the prevention of unplanned pregnancy and the right of women’s choice and bodily autonomy, the right to access comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) and the elimination of gender-based violence (GBV). The prevention and response to GBV is critical to our work, and thus, integrated into our SRHR objectives, services and programmes. The Member Associations support GBV survivors through trauma informed care and counselling, information and referrals for specialised services, including mental health, empowerment programmes, access to justice and social support. CFPA and its members have strongly advocated for the elimination of all forms of GBV and have spoken out against acts of GBV in various Caribbean countries, working in collaboration with regional governments and multilateral stakeholders to provide support to GBV survivors.
CFPA is an accredited member of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF): Americas and the Caribbean Region (ACRO). The SRHR Observatory through CFPA is integral to help advance SRHR in the region.