Caribbean Youth Summit 2023 Focuses on Tackling Gender-Based Violence and Health Issues Among Youth

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Ms Michele Small-Bartley, Programme Manager, Youth Development, CARICOM Secretariat and Mr Sherwin Toyne-Stephenson, Programme Manager, Crime and Security, CARICOM Secretariat

The 2023 Caribbean Youth Summit, celebrated under the theme “Securing Our Future – Youth Co-Creating a Peaceful and Sustainable Caribbean Community against Gender-Based Violence,” has commenced with a focus on youth-led solutions to pressing challenges faced by young people across the Caribbean. Emphasis will be placed on dialogue surrounding Gender-Based Violence (GBV), as well as sexual, reproductive, and mental health issues, to develop innovative strategies tailored for the youth.

The Summit aims to address the various consequences of GBV and health issues that significantly impact young people, including sexual abuse, unwanted pregnancies, educational setbacks, job absenteeism, and overall poor health outcomes. Acknowledging the intergenerational transmission of family violence, the Summit recognizes the need to disrupt the cycle of abuse that often leads young victims to become future perpetrators or continue to face abuse.

There is a consensus on the benefits of life skills and Comprehensive Sexuality Education programmes in combating these challenges. However, the effective institutionalization and sustainability of these programmes remain inconsistent across the Caribbean, highlighting the need for continued effort to achieve lasting change.

Additionally, despite the recognized effectiveness of Comprehensive Sexuality Education, gaps in policy and programme implementation persist, calling for a more institutionalized and comprehensive approach across the region.

The Summit, held in Jamaica, coincides with the 30th Anniversary of the CARICOM Youth Ambassador programme and the 10th Anniversary of the Caribbean Regional Youth Council, underscoring the significance of youth as partners in the Caribbean’s development.

The expected outcome of the Summit is the creation of a Roadmap outlining strategies and actions to enhance peace, security, and safety for youth and to instigate positive social and gender norm changes aimed at preventing violence. This gathering reaffirms the commitment to youth involvement and the creation of a protective environment to foster resilience among Caribbean youth.

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