The venture is part of the continuing effort to reduce stigma and discrimination in the society supported by Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and Pan Caribbean Partnership Against HIV and AIDS (PANCAP) under the theme “Making St. Kitts and Nevis Better, Equality for All.”
The occasion was marked at a ceremony on 5th July at the St. Kitts Marriott Resort.
In remarks, Minister of Health, Marcella Liburd, explained that as a member of the United Nations, St. Kitts and Nevis has a singular responsibility to promote the rights and freedoms articulated in the Universal declaration of human rights.
She also noted that while the Caribbean enjoys many freedoms and upholds the inherent dignity and equality of all members of the human family, this is not true in many countries around the world.
“In light of that we must now focus our efforts on educating our people with regard to their rights, specifically to their rights to health care, education and employment. Clearly these three fundamental rights hold the key to effective empowerment of citizenry that will in turn spur growth and development.”
In her feature address, Director of PANCAP, Juliett Bynoe-Shutherland, stated that there is a tendency to view human rights in one of two ways. First as something from the outside, that is, something pushed by Americans or Europeans and that it is designed to undermine the very fabric of our Caribbean society.
Another view that she stated is probably more problematic in that certain persons conclude there are really no substantive human rights issues to be addressed in modern times.
“Women have equality and are in fact women are doing better than men and boys,” Ms. Shutherland noted. “The disabled are fine because there are ramps available for them. As for sexual minorities, many have said they are hardly any of those persons here. Those that we know, we know they are fine as no one does them anything here. They are just not a priority, other issues are much more important. There are segments of our community that have not felt that full realization of human rights as women, the mentally and physically disabled, men who have sex with men and other sexual minorities. So there is still work to be done, there are still priorities to be tackled to make St. Kitts and Nevis and our Caribbean society a better place for all people.”
The campaign will run through the end of July and will include community consultation meetings with small target groups and an essay competition. These activities will be used as a means of spreading the human rights message to the grass-roots garnering a momentum of awareness and acknowledgement of human rights issues.