Maria Bird-Browne joins regional First Ladies to address Women and children’s issues

Maria Bird Browne (file photo) plans to contest Rural East seat

Antigua and Barbuda’s First Lady, Maria Bird Browne has pledged to work with Caribbean First Ladies to address major issues affecting women, adolescents and children in the region.

Bird Browne, wife of Prime Minister Gaston Browne recently attended the launch of the Spouses of Caribbean Leaders Action Network (SCLAN) in Belize, designed to tackle issues relating to the well-being and health of women, children and adolescents in the Caribbean.

“SCLAN has identified four pillars for action to include the reduction of adolescent pregnancy, raising HPV awareness to eliminate cervical cancer, reducing gender based violence, and eliminating the transmission of HIV/AIDS and congenital syphilis from mother to child. Flexibly, SCLAN will allow for First Ladies and Spouses to focus on other areas of concern and great priority in their respective countries, in addition to the identified four pillars,” Maria Bird Browne pointed out.

She also pointed out that the Network of Spouses and First Ladies will work to advocate for and advance the Every Caribbean Woman, Every Caribbean Child initiative (CariWac). She pointed out that of particular concern to her is that of mental health among women and young adults.

At the launch, Bird-Browne engaged in discussions sharing the initiatives and laws that have already been put in place by the Gaston Browne administration to align the country with the CariWac initiative. “The Government and the Minister of Social Transformation and Gender Affairs were congratulated for their good work in bringing Antigua & Barbuda closer to the vision of CariWac,” she said.

During her presentation to the gathering, Bird-Browne highlighted the challenge of domestic violence in Caribbean countries.  She pointed out that while there is a  new law, addressing this issue is a work in progress in Antigua and Barbuda.

“I am of the view that in Antigua and Barbuda the challenge has not yet been fully overcome, in part because the strictures of a recently passed law have not yet percolated down through the society. The public education campaign has begun; and, the message has reached a significant number of those who are likely to engage in that anti-social behaviour,” She noted.

She also outlined that the new law’s deterrent effect will be measurable over time, and it is her intention to share Antigua and Barbuda’s successes with the Network.

Bird-Browne, who accompanied Prime Minister Browne to the United Nations last week, said that very shortly she will be meeting with a number of women’s, and children’s organizations and adolescent groups with the aim of advancing the Every Caribbean Woman, Every Caribbean Child initiative.

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