BASSETERRE, St Kitts -- Sonia Boddie, Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Youth Ambassador for the Federation of St Kitts and Nevis, was a part of the youth contingent selected from across the region, to participate in the Pan-Caribbean Partnership Against HIV and Aids (PANCAP) Caribbean Consultation on Justice for All and Human Rights Agenda, convened under the theme “Advancing Justice for ALL and Human Rights in the Caribbean”, and held in Kingston Jamaica, from 10-11 April, 2014.
Sonia Boddie, Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Youth Ambassador for St Kitts and Nevis, at the Pan-Caribbean Partnership Against HIV and Aids (PANCAP) Caribbean Consultation on Justice for All and Human Rights Agenda
Boddie noted that the three day consultation discussed the synthesis report on PANCAP Justice for All National Consultations that were held last year in Guyana, Grenada, Jamaica, Suriname and St Kitts and Nevis, the updates and outcomes of the key Caribbean regional milestones on HIV and human rights, human rights in the post 2015 agenda and policy and advocacy monitoring: opportunities and challenges for the Caribbean.
She also noted that working group sessions were held where participants were divided in clusters of parliamentarians, faith based organizations, youth leaders, civil society organizations and the private sector. The groups were tasked with reviewing and lending their ideas to the enhancement of priority areas of the evolving PANCAP roadmap for the elimination of stigma and discrimination and increased access to justice in the national HIV response.
Commenting on the regional consultation, Boddie remarked, “It was a very informative and thought provoking consultation, especially having been informed of some very serious incidents of cases of stigma and discrimination and violation of human rights within the region. However, I am very delighted that the youth were given an opportunity to lend their voices to such a high level consultation, and contribute to the development of a PANCAP Justice for All Roadmap, which provides a framework for advocacy and strategies for greater coordination on human rights programming across the region.”
She added, “It is critically important that young people are included in the decision making processes, because once there is input from youth in the shaping of policies, they would feel a greater sense of ownership and be more willing to aid in the effective implementation of said policies.”
The youth ambassador concluded, “As the Caribbean is the most HIVAIDS infected region of the Americas, it is fundamentally important that as a Caribbean people we must move from “talkshop and become galvanized into action”, to create greater awareness about the effects of HIV/AIDS, and take a bold stance to eliminate stigma and discrimination, and demonstrate a greater respect for each other’s human rights. The time to be champions of change is now.”
In the words, of Mandeep Dhaliwal, director, HIV, Health and Development Group, UNDP, “We cannot effectively deal with HIV, unless we bring it out of isolation.”