GIS – 01 July 2020: The Ministry of Gender Equality and Family Welfare embarked on a new initiative to promote gender equality and maintain the fight against gender-based violence, through the signing of the Direct Aid Programme with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Australian High Commission.
The signing ceremony was held, this, morning at Port-Louis and the signatories were the Minister of Gender Equality and Family Welfare, Mrs Kalpana Devi Koonjoo-Shah, the Australian High Commissionner to Mauritius, Ms Jenny Dee, and the UNDP Resident Representative for Mauritius and Seychelles, Ms Amanda Serumaga.
In her address, Minister Kalpana Devi Koonjoo-Shah highlighted the unflinching support of the UNDP and the Australian Government, which has enabled the Ministry to blaze new trails and embark on innovative programmes and projects for the promotion of gender equality and protection from gender-based violence.
She dwelt on the longstanding partnership of Mauritius with both the UNDP and Australian High Commission and expressed gratitude to the institutions in their technical and financial assistance to help sustain the advancement of the gender equality agenda.
The Minister indicated that the Programme is a flexible, small grants program funded by the Australian Government and managed through the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade overseas posts and aims to support projects with a strong development focus. She pointed out that it benefits those in need within the local community, including vulnerable or disadvantaged groups, women, children, youths and people with disabilities.
Moreover, she spoke about the series of measures elaborated by Government in Budget 2020/2021 to enable women to become both socially and economically independent.
These are: financial assistance to women entrepreneurs by the Development Bank of Mauritius , wherein funds to the tune of Rs 200 will be made available for loans at a concessional rate of 0.5% per annum; entrepreneurial programmes organised by the National Women Entrepreneur Council ; implementation of the 50 Million African Women Speak Project and the implementation of the “Atelier des Métiers”, aimed at equipping unemployed/ poor/ vulnerable women with relevant skills/ tools and other related support to enable them to engage in income- generating activities.
The Ministry is also looking forward to work in close collaboration with NGOs, religious organisations and community leaders for implementation of projects aimed at addressing gender-based violence.
As for the Australian Ambassador, she underlined that the Australian Government champions the social and economic empowerment of women and tackling gender-based violence is at the cornerstone of its agenda. We aim at securing cooperation and collaboration across the international community to address gender equality issues and break down barriers to women’s empowerment, she stated.
According to her, the Covid-19 pandemic highlighted the challenges women faced across the economic, security health and safety spheres, while deploring that gender-based violence multiplied and intensified globally during the lockdown.
She underpinned the crucial contribution of women to the post-Covid-19 social and economic recovery as we are all called upon to build back together.
Furthermore, Ms.Serumaga highlighted that the UNDP engages itself to sustain its actions in Mauritius and Rodrigues to accelerate initiatives geared towards promoting gender equality and women empowerment. She emphasised that it is important to speed up actions and align resources towards targeted programs to achieve these objectives, in particular as women will bear the brunt of the Covid-19 pandemic in a more disproportionate manner within the overall socio-economic landscape.
The Chairperson of the Rodrigues Regional Assembly ,Mrs Spéville, who participated in the ceremony through videoconference, underlined that the funding being allocated to the Rodrigues Regional Assembly is timely as it will contribute to the launching of the work of the SDG Committee. She further added that Rodrigues aspires to build resilience, safeguard its natural resources and empower its social capital and hence will calibrate its Covid-19 Responses to achieve the SDGs.
Having baseline data through the research to be conducted with the support of the UNDP and the Australian High Commission will be of utmost importance in this endeavour, she said.
The Agreement between the UNDP, the Australian High Commission and the Ministry concerns the implementation of the Observatory on Gender Based Violence and Perpetrators Rehabilitation Programme and an Animated Cartoon on the gender concept.
This Cartoon will enable the ministry to sensitise the public at large on gender-related issues.
Also on the occasion, the fortnightly newsletter of the UNDP on Gendered Voices was launched. The newsletter, focusing on women experiences during the Covid-19 lockdown, is underpinned by the narratives of different groups of women in Mauritius. It will serve as the basis for existing and future policy-orientation of the government to bring forth appropriate programmes and services for the benefit of women.
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