One of the buildings at CDB’s headquarters in St Michael, Barbados.

Vice-President of Operations at the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) Monica La Bennett has articulated that poverty reduction cannot be achieved whilst there is gender inequality.

At the launch of a gender-based violence initiative, La Bennett said: “Without gender equality, we cannot achieve our mandate to reduce extreme poverty in the Caribbean.”

She continued: “Support for efforts to achieve gender equality, including ending gender-based violence, is a key priority for the Caribbean Development Bank.”

The CDB, UN Women, and CARICOM have joined forces to better understand how women experience intimate violence with a view to reducing and eliminating this scourge in the Caribbean.

As International Women’s Day approaches the three organisations launched national prevalence surveys on gender-based violence for five Caribbean countries in Bridgetown, Barbados, on March 4.

UN Women Multi-Country Office Caribbean Representative Alison McLean remarked: “Without reliable and relevant data, it is not possible to adequately treat, reduce and prevent violence against women and girls.”

Following surveys to measure the prevalence of gender-based violence, specifically intimate partner violence in five Caribbean countries, the statistics are as follows.

Women aged 15-64 have experienced at least one form of violence ranging from 39 per cent to as high as 55 per cent while 28 per cent to 38 per cent of women have experienced physical or sexual violence from a partner in their lifetime.

Meanwhile, physical violence ranges from 25 per cent to 35 per cent and emotional violence, which is usually the least reported form of violence ranged from 29 per cent to 40 per cent of the women surveyed.

In a release from the CDB, it noted that “the lack of physical scars makes no form of violence a lesser concern. All forms of violence cause grave harm.”

With the support from CDB, the Inter-American Development Bank, USAID and CARICOM, UN Women has invested significantly in supporting Caribbean countries in strengthening capacities to fill the data gaps on violence against women and girls using the model.

As a result, the initial goal of piloting the survey in two countries surveyed has been exceeded, surveying five countries in total – Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago.