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By Shermain Bique-Charles

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A government senator has applauded a decision by the Canadian government and its partners, Equality Fund and Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, to pump millions of dollars into women’s right organisations across the region, including Antigua and Barbuda.

The CAD$4.8 million, which is strictly grant funding, is the result of a highly spirited and inclusive process launched in March 2020 by the Equality Fund and Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, with the support of feminist leaders from across the Caribbean.

 “These funds will no doubt assist them in advocating for equality/equity, helping marginalised demographics — for instance, LGBTQI+ women and girls — as well as funding much needed grassroots programmes,” Senator Aziza Lake told Observer following the announcement.

In Antigua and Barbuda, the recipients include the Caribbean Institute for Women in Leadership (CIWIL), Integrated Health Outreach, and Intersect. 

 “Personally, I knew the work of two of the awardees: Intersect, a Caribbean feminist organisation of Antiguan origins that has recently transitioned into digital activism with their Caribbean Feminist Stories project with its focus on the curation of Caribbean, and ‘queeribbean’ feminist stories to ‘agitate for transformative social change and justice’; and CIWiL – Caribbean Women in Leadership which is a regional nonpartisan organisation that promotes and advocates for women’s participation in politics, leadership, decision making and public life,” she explained.

Lake said a local chapter was also recently launched with the executive body doing media rounds and discussing upcoming projects such as Young Women in Leadership (YWiL) training programme.

 “It is my sincere hope that these grants will help these two organisations and the third awardee Integrated Health Outreach does amazing work here in Antigua and Barbuda that will benefit women and children, particularly those in vulnerable groups,” she added.

More than 70 women’s organisations applied for the grant and, in addition to Antigua and Barbuda, the other successful Caribbean countries were Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Guyana, Saint Lucia, and Suriname.

Over the next three years, a total of CAD$1,174,058 will be shared among those eight countries.

The initiative supports grassroots organisations that advance women’s rights in the Caribbean, particularly those working with vulnerable and marginalised women and girls, including LBTIQ communities.

Canada’s assistance is expected to improve the capacity of women’s rights organisations to deliver programmes, promote women’s rights, and advocate for changes in laws, attitudes and behaviours to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment in the region.  

Eight women’s rights organisations were selected in the Eastern Caribbean — three in Antigua and Barbuda, one in Dominica, one in Grenada, and four in St Lucia. 

The Dominica Planned Parenthood Association and Sweet Water Foundation in Grenada will also be supported. 

In St Lucia, grantees include Helen’s Daughters; Girls of a Feather; Raise Your Voice St Lucia; and LEZ Connect.

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