Minister Updates On UNDP Joint Programme

June 30, 2023 | 0 Comments

Minister of Social Development and Seniors Tinee Furbert provided an update on the United Nations Development Programme [UNDP] Joint Programme: “Building Back Equal through Innovative Financing for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment.”

The Minister’s full statement follows below:

Mr. Speaker,

This morning I am delighted to provide this Honourable House with an update on the United Nations Development Programme [UNDP] Joint Programme: “Building Back Equal through Innovative Financing for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment” also referred to as the Building Back Equal Project. This week June 27th, marked one year since the Government entered into a landmark partnership agreement with the United Nations to participate in this joint programme, which supports Bermuda’s Economic Recovery Plan.

Mr. Speaker,

I take this opportunity to remind my Honourable colleagues that the joint programme – the Building Back Equal Project – aims to diversify Bermuda’s economy by supporting the growth of new opportunities for empowering women, our youth and persons with disabilities to engage in key economic sectors, such as agriculture; cultural and creative industries; micro, small and medium-sized enterprises [MSMEs]; and sustainable tourism. The joint programme also aligns with the Government’s national priorities and its commitment to ensuring the advancement of gender affairs. The programme encourages productive engagement for the growth of new opportunities in sectors such as agriculture, fisheries, and cultural industries.

Mr. Speaker,

The joint programme is intended to pilot innovative financing for gender equality to enable Bermuda to not only build back equal, post-COVID-19 but also to provide best practice examples to other jurisdictions. These examples would showcase how innovative financing vehicles, digital platforms and the tools and frameworks of the Women’s Empowerment Principles can be leveraged to close the existing financing gaps that women, youth and persons with disabilities face in sectors such as agriculture, sustainable tourism; and creative and cultural industries. As such, the joint programme will improve access to innovative financing, and work with the government to create a financial environment that incentivizes private sector engagement in gender lens investment and improve practices that will enhance gender-equitable performance management.

Mr. Speaker,

Let me provide a brief summary of events that took place in 2022 aligned with the joint programme initiative. My Honourable colleagues will recall that on June 27th 2022, the joint programme was launched at the Grotto Bay Beach Resort and attended by Her Excellency the Governor, yourself Mr. Speaker, local distinguished guests, overseas officials representing the United Nations Joint Sustainable Development Goals fund, the UN Women and the UN Development Programme [UNDP] Multi-County Office in the Caribbean, the Portland Private Equity organization.

Mr. Speaker,

Subsequent to this inaugural launch of the programme, the next day on June 28th 2022, the UN Women and UNDP delegates held engagement sessions with key stakeholder groups that facilitated the opportunity to learn and understand more about the role and functions of both UN Women and UNDP within the joint programme framework. Stakeholders represented Government Ministries and Departments, and various representatives from the Human Rights Commission; the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation; the financial and business sectors; the arts and cultural sector; education; environment; the tourism industry and youth and sports.

Mr. Speaker,

In October 2022, the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation [BEDC] was invited by the UN Women Multi-Country Office – Caribbean to identify and nominate women entrepreneurs from its incubator and/or accelerator programme and its broader female client base to participate in a business boot camp initiative entitled: “Yemanja Collaborative: A Training Workshop for Women Entrepreneurs”. The objectives of the training workshop were to:

  • 1. Strengthen leadership capacity, empower and equip participants to scale their business and create meaningful jobs; and
  • 2. Build networks and create mentorship opportunities for entrepreneurs in the agro-processing and creative and cultural industries.

This training and networking workshop was part of the United Nations South-South and Triangular Solutions to overcome Gender and Race-Based discrimination; and particularly targeted women entrepreneurs in the agribusiness sector or in the creative/cultural industry sectors that included art, design, music, or film.

Mr. Speaker,

The BEDC was pleased to recommend the Bermudian female-owned business BUNA Gallery representing the arts and creative industry sector to participate in the training workshop that was held from December 5th to 7th 2022, in Kingston, Jamaica. Participants came from over 20 countries in the Caribbean and Latin America and were all women entrepreneurs looking to grow professionally and personally, contribute to their countries, and make a difference in their respective industries. Dana Selassie owner of BUNA Gallery, reports she walked away with a new sense of purpose in being a voice for women entrepreneurs in the creative and cultural spaces in Bermuda and the Diaspora.

Mr. Speaker,

Also, in December 2022, the UN Women advertised and offered two consultancy opportunities for persons to help implement the work within the framework of the joint programme project. These positions included:

  • 1] A Researcher to conduct a Needs Assessment on Financial Instruments for Women-owned MSMEs; and
  • 2] A Researcher to conduct a Feasibility Study on Financing Mechanisms for Gender Equality.

Later in March 2023, a third position for a Consultant was advertised to support the activities of the Joint Sustainable Development Goals Fund Programme for Advancing Innovative Financing in Bermuda. This position was fundamental for Bermuda since the Consultant would be working in Bermuda to undertake the implementation and delivery of the joint programme.

The Ministry sent out a press release for each of the UN employment offerings and encouraged Bermudians to apply for job opportunities to work with the UN Women and UNDP. The relevant information about the consultancies was also posted on the various social platforms for wider coverage and outreach.

The UNDP has since advised that the recruitment process is ongoing in alignment with the policy and procedures of their Operations Department and is expected to close in a few weeks. We certainly look forward to the onboarding of the Consultant and the commencement of the core work for this joint programme in Bermuda.

Mr. Speaker,

In February 2023, the UNDP Jamaica launched its 2022 – 2026 Country Programme, The vision of this UNDP multi-country programme is to support the Governments of the Bahamas, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Jamaica and Turks and Caicos Islands in reducing multidimensional poverty through gender-responsive, inclusive, sustainable and equitable social and economic development pathways towards the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. I participated in the Programme Launch by providing official remarks on behalf of the Bermuda Government and participating in the working sessions.

Mr. Speaker,

To support the continuity of the joint programme eight [8] delegates representing the UN Women Multi-Country Office for the Caribbean, and the United Nations Development Programme from Belize; Cayman Islands; The Bahamas; and Turks and Caicos undertook a mission to Bermuda from April 30th to May 6th 2023. The team was supported by partners from the Development Finance Institute Canada Inc [FinDev Canada] and Portland Private Equity. The purpose of the mission was to:

  • re-engage project partners and other stakeholders who participated in the initial engagement sessions held on June 28th, 2022, for sustained buy-in and implementation of the project;
  • validate the draft curriculum and implementation plan for the Gender Equitable Finance & Accelerator Program [GEFAP] in Bermuda;
  • conduct training for public sector officers on appropriate financing policies and instruments for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment;
  • conduct training on Gender Lens Investing for Financial Institutions; and
  • explore other UN Women and UNDP programming opportunities in Bermuda.

Mr. Speaker,

Training is essential to the success and sustainability of the joint programme. As such the delegation hosted two full-day training sessions on May 3rd and 4th.

  • 1] A training session targeting appropriate financing policies and instruments for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment was provided to Permanent Secretaries, technical officers from the Ministry of Economy and Labour, Youth, Culture and Sports, and Social Development and Seniors. These officers were informed of the formalities and expectations of the joint programme and the role they would play.
  • 2] The second training session was on gender finance and gender lens investing for financial institutions. Participants attended from Clarien Bank Limited, HSBC Bank, Butterfield Group and the Bermuda Economic Development Cooperation whose clients are primarily owners of MSMEs who will benefit from the opportunities provided by the joint programme, in particular entrepreneurs having access to additional capital and reduced risk.

I am pleased to inform this Honourable House that seventeen [17] persons representing the public and private sectors are now trained in gender lens investing and public financing policies and instruments for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Bermuda.

Mr. Speaker,

The work of the UNDP multicultural office in Jamaica spans 170 countries with the aim to help countries achieve their sustainable development goals. Therefore, several meetings were scheduled with the delegates and Government Ministries and Departments to share their expertise and explore further partnerships and the potential for technical support. These included:

  • The Ministry of Social Development and Seniors where discussions centred around the protection of women, young people and persons with disabilities; the best methods of providing awareness and engaging the vulnerable sector of the population so they benefit from any incentives that are part of the joint programme; and, the gaps in access to investment capital for MSMEs.
  • The Ageing and Disability Services technical team to discuss programming opportunities and resources required to effectively provide the requisite support for persons with disabilities to create a more inclusive Bermuda.
  • A meeting with the Department of Youth, Sport, and Recreation to discuss partnership opportunities for the implementation of Bermuda’s first National Youth Policy and National Sports Policy; and other resources that can be extended to advance sport, recreation and youth development.
  • Meeting with the Minister of National Security and members of the Emergency Measures Organization to discuss Bermuda’s existing national hurricane/disaster preparedness and recovery plan; and expanding on resources to improve the existing infrastructure for national emergencies.
  • A meeting with the Minister and Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Home Affairs to discuss natural resources, safety, and the environment.
  • Meeting with the Chair and Deputy Chair of the newly appointed Gender Affairs Council to review and give input on its newly developed Terms of Reference.

The meetings with the UN Women and UNDP delegates were informative, resourceful, and very much engaging as methodologies, processes and best practices were shared.

The UN Women and UNDP mission to Bermuda culminated with an interview on the radio talk show 102.7 Magic and an interview with the Bermuda Broadcasting Company about the Building Back Equal Project which was aired for the awareness of the general public. The interviews provided a snapshot of the joint programme and its benefits for Bermudians, which aim to enhance the economic and social development of women, youth and persons with disabilities, which by extension impacts the entire population.

Mr. Speaker,

In closing, let me say that I am excited about the progress of the UN Joint Programme. The Government proudly celebrates the one-year anniversary of a groundbreaking partnership for the Building Back Equal Project that has transformed the landscape of gender equality and women’s empowerment. This is a historic milestone for Bermuda forging the first-ever partnership agreement with the United Nations Development Programme and UN Women.

This Government reaffirms its unwavering commitment to gender equality and will continue its efforts to build an economic and social environment where persons our empowered, in particular women, youth, and persons with disabilities in all sectors of the community for a more equitable and inclusive society, which guarantees no one gets left behind.

I extend my heartfelt thanks to Ms. Tonni Ann Brober of the UN Women Multi-Country Office for the Caribbean and Ms. Denise Antonio, of the United Nations Development Programme and their team for their invaluable contribution in driving this partnership and lending the expertise needed to effect change through the Joint Programme.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker!

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