United and Strong is re-committed to strengthening regional advocacy through the LGBTI advocacy network CariFLAGS (Caribbean Forum for Liberation and Acceptance of Genders and Sexualities). So states U&S Co-executive director Kenita Placide, who represented the Saint Lucia NGO at CariFLAGS’ most recent management meeting in Suriname.
Held from January 10 – 12, 2014, the regular symposium evaluated CariFLAGS’ progress in the last quarter and set the work for the coming months. Placide says, “These management meetings are very important in strengthening communications and strategy across regions. It gives us an opportunity to have a much clearer image of the gaps in our work, share best practices and develop strategies to address those gaps.”
She adds, “It is revisiting our vision and tweaking it where necessary to ensure we are actually covering the different communities, providing the technical services and support they need.”
As the eastern Caribbean hub of CariFLAGS, U&S is charged with building strategy and synergy across the EC to increase collaborations and advocacy campaigns. This involves assistance to LGBTI advocacy groups in twelve islands, including the French and US departments.
CariFLAGS secretariat manager Colin Robinson (Trinidad), chaired the meeting, which heard reports from co-chairs Dane Lewis (Jamaica) and Tieneke Sumter (Suriname), southern hub coordinator Richie Maitland (CAISO, Trinidad & Tobago), non-commonwealth western hub coordinator Deivis Ventura (RevAsa, Dominica Republic) and commonwealth western hub coordinator Brian Paul Welsh (J-Flag, Jamaica). Also in attendance was CariFLAGS secretariat compliance officer Suzanne Gomez-Ferdinandus and Sibongile Ndashe, South Africa legal consultant and facilitator.
This is CariFLAGS’ fourth meeting in this financial year. Previous meetings were hosted in Trinidad and the Dominican Republic.
The Caribbean Forum for Liberation and Acceptance of Genders & Sexualities (CariFLAGS) originated in 1997. In 2011-12 fifty representatives of almost thirty Caribbean groups in fifteen countries endorsed the revitalisation and development of the network into a strong and representative regional non-governmental institution capable of advancing an LGBT agenda and engaging with regional governments, donors and the international community.
CariFLAGS operates across the Caribbean in partnership with the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition, and its partner el Centro de Orientacíon e Investigacíon Integral (COIN).