Saint Lucia: the Ministry of Equity organizes a workshop on social protection

Saint Lucia: the Ministry of Equity organizes a workshop on social protection

St. LUCIA: Twenty-one media and communications professionals received a strong call to action to become partners for social change during a two-day workshop on social media protection. The workshop was held at the Harbor Club and was organized by the Universal Adaptive Social Protection Joint Program in the Eastern Caribbean in conjunction with the Ministry of Equity, Social Justice and Empowerment.

Speaking to the media at the event, Irene Gaspard, Deputy Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Equity, Social Justice and Empowerment, said: “Advocacy and communication are key drivers of transformation of social protection. Certainly more public awareness is needed and you, our media professionals, are seen as strategic allies in this regard. You can change and especially shape the conversation about social protection today. We are confident that you recognize yourselves as being in a strong position to effectively monitor the commitments made by policy makers and increase transparency and accountability in the delivery of our social protection mandate.

The workshop aimed to better build the capacity of media professionals in Saint Lucia, enabling them to understand, report on and conduct public dialogue on social protection issues and developments. During the workshop, participants were exposed to interactive presentations defining social protection, debunking prevailing myths and exploring social protection in an Eastern Caribbean context. These sessions were moderated by Celine Felix, Social Policy Officer at the UNICEF Eastern Caribbean Office and Ariel Pino, Social Protection and OSH Specialist at the ILO in the Caribbean. Participants also attended a special session on using storytelling to create compelling stories about people on welfare. This session drew on the expertise of a former journalist and Head of Communications and Advocacy at the Office of the United Nations Resident Coordinator, Faine Richards.

Chrisy Bakie, journalist, noted that the training was well received. “I was excited about the opportunity to learn how to properly report on social welfare topics. As a newcomer to the media, this training was necessary and will certainly help improve my reporting on these sensitive issues. I look forward to having more sessions to learn more about social protection. It was super educational and fun!

The media workshop is one of many initiatives implemented by the Joint Program in Saint Lucia. According to Lilia Ramjeawan, Joint Program Coordinator, “The Joint Program has helped strengthen Saint Lucia’s social protection system at the national and community levels. Our partnership with the Department of Equity has enabled vulnerable populations to have increased access to gender-responsive and risk-informed social protection programs. Moreover, the government is better placed to assess the needs of the population and use social protection to minimize the impact of future shocks on vulnerable populations.

The joint program is funded by the Joint Fund for the SDGs and benefits from the expertise of five participating UN organizations: ILO, UNDP, UNICEF, UN Women and WFP. These agencies work together, under the leadership of the Office of the United Nations Resident Coordinator (Barbados and Eastern Caribbean), in supporting government-led efforts to reduce poverty and inequality and build people’s resilience through predictable access to adaptive social protection in Barbados, Saint Lucia and the wider OECS.

Joel C. Hicks