The vision for a region-wide movement in the Caribbean started in the Barbados in 1985 when the Inter-American Parliamentary Group on Population and Development – formerly IAPG, in a joint effort with CARICOM, and in collaboration with the United Nations Population Fund Sub-Regional Office for the Caribbean (UNFPA SROC) and IPPF/WHR, organized the Conference of Caribbean Parliamentarians on Population and Development. This conference called upon legislators across the region to establish national and regional committees to address issues related to population and development.
Fifteen years later in September 2000, the Caribbean Movement of Parliamentarians for Population and Development was launched under UNFPA, to promote greater involvement of parliamentarians on population and development, including reproductive health and rights. This pilot initiative was the first step in a concerted effort by different actors to bring together parliamentarians given the particular needs of the parliaments in this sub region.
In 2008 the Caribbean Network of Parliamentarians on Population and Development CNPPD was established with renewed leadership and considering the lessons from previous experiences. As a result, the Suriname meeting took place in Paramaribo in November 24 and 25, 2008, co-organized by the GPI and UNFPA, with the participation of parliamentarians from eleven countries in the region. CNPPD members elected a Coordinator and Secretary and appointed the GPI as the Secretariat. In July 2009, the CNPPD was officially affiliated to the GPI network, thus establishing itself as one of the GPI member groups, joining efforts to implement parliamentary actions to advance population and development issues in the entire Western Hemisphere Region. A follow-up meeting took place in Trinidad and Tobago in 2010 when a formal structure was set up with elections and setting in motion the network.
Caribbean parliamentarians have been active at various UN international events and as part of the GPI delegations in the global IPCI and Women Deliver conferences around the world. They have also been important actors during UN negotiations, promoting and advancing the ICPD agenda in the post 2015 development processes.
The following countries participated: Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Saint Lucia, St. Kitts & Nevis, Suriname, and Trinidad & Tobago.
Hon. Moses Jn. Baptiste is the Parliamentary Representative for the constituency of Vieux Fort North in the Caribbean island of Saint Lucia and is a member of the Lower House in Saint Lucia’s Parliament. He has been involved in politics since 2006, when he successfully contested the general elections. During the 2011 to 2016 parliamentary term Hon. Moses Jn. Baptiste served as the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries, Cooperatives and Rural Development. He is currently in Opposition as the Saint Labor Party’s spokesperson on Agriculture, Fisheries and Health.
Before entering politics, Hon. Jn. Baptiste was an agricultural science teacher at the Vieux Fort Comprehensive Secondary School; he then moved on to be the head master at the Vieux Fort Primary and Technical schools. Hon. Jn. Baptiste is a “cultural activist”, poet and leads a local cultural and drumming called “Tanbou Mele.”
In 2012 he participated representing St. Lucia at the International Parliamentarians Conference in Istanbul, Turkey where he became involved in advocating for reproductive health and rights. Due to his is commitment promoting the ICPD agenda, has been elected to head the Caribbean Parliamentary Forum on Population and Development (CPF). His election as Chairman of the regional network took place in Trinidad and Tobago on June 2018 during a meeting of Caribbean Parliamentarians organized by the Inter-American Parliamentary Group and included the participation of Ministers of Health, Social Affairs and Gender Relations from various Caribbean countries. As Chair of CPF, he will work not only in Saint Lucia, but with the people of the Caribbean to identify common areas of interest, strengthen collaborations with civil society groups on SDG issues to broaden the working relationships between national and regional legislative bodies on population and development.
The Honorable Hazel Brandy–Williams is currently the Minister of Health and Gender Affairs of the Nevis island administration of the island of St. Christopher and Nevis. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Finance from the University of the Virgin Islands, and a master’s in science (MSC) specializing in Risk Management & Financial Services from the University of Glasgow, in Scotland.
From 2013 until 2017 she was a Junior Minister with responsibility for the Ministries of Social Development, Youth, Sports, Community Development, Basic Needs Trust Fund (BNTF) Unit and Sustainable Human Development. Prior to that she has had extensive experience in the Nevis Island Administration since 1988, where she has been Deputy Comptroller Inland Revenue (1998-2000), Budget Analyst (2000 -2002), Budget Director (2002 – 2007) and Registrar of International Insurance (2007 – 2013).
Her diverse background and interest in the financial world, along with her community involvement, have made her one of leading champions for women’s empowerment in her country. She has participated in various international UN events and conferences, where she has represented St. Kitts & Nevis. She was elected in June 2018 to Coordinate the Caribbean Parliamentary Forum (CPF) to promote an open dialogue and foster alliances among Caribbean countries on sexual reproductive health and rights.
On June 1st and 2nd, 2018, the UNFPA Sub-Regional Office in the Caribbean jointly with the GPI organized a two-day Caribbean Regional Parliamentary meeting. The main goal was to revitalize and identify new members who can be champions for the ICPD and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Through a revitalized network and more members, parliamentarians met for two days to discuss work across party lines to adopt a new structure that will work for sexual and reproductive health and rights under the SDG framework.
Active CPF members will be key to gather support and MPs will need to work at all levels to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and to advance the 2030 development agenda. CPF member parliamentarians can play a central role in formulating national policies: they can initiate legislation, determine budget allocations, monitor implementation through oversight, and act as advocates on issues. Most importantly, they can mobilize the political will necessary to contribute to a favorable environment to exercise reproductive health and rights in the Caribbean region.
The CPF thus, offers us a unique opportunity to gather support, share experiences within the region to learn from previous experiences and mobilize efforts across party lines in support of the ICPD agenda and the SDGs. Through joint efforts, members will: