Speech of Ambassador Cavendish at the RV4 Humanitarian Breakfast Series

Migration and Gender Based Violence are firmly at the top of the European Union’s political agenda.  The challenge for all of us involved in working on these two issues is not only to understand, but also to implement measures to address gender-based violence in the context of migration.

Remarks – Humanitarian Breakfast Series

Friday 4th November 2022


  • IOM and UNHCR RV4 Platform Humanitarian Breakfasts Series cohosts
  • Government Representatives
  • Representatives from Diplomatic Missions
  • Ladies and Gentlemen


Let me start by thanking the RV4 platform cohosts for organizing this Humanitarian Breakfast Series and specifically for inviting the EU Delegation to cohost this 5th seminar, focusing on Gender Based Violence.  Migration and Gender Based Violence are firmly at the top of the European Union’s political agenda. The challenge for all of us involved in working on these two issues is not only to understand, but also to implement measures to address gender-based violence in the context of migration.

What Is the EU Doing about GBV and Migration?

  • In an effort to protect women and children from gender-based violence, the EU has instituted various policies, legislation and practical measures. These include:


  • The EU Gender Equality Strategy 2020-2025 confirms that the European Commission will do all it can to prevent and combat gender-based violence, support and protect victims, and hold perpetrators accountable. The Gender Equality Strategy provides an ambitious set of measures for ending gender-based and domestic violence.
  • The Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence – the ‘Istanbul Convention’ – is the benchmark for international standards in this field. The EU signed the Convention in 2017, signaling our intention to become a party to this most advanced human rights agreement on protecting women from violence. The Istanbul Convention addresses the particular difficulties that many migrant women face when they become victims of GBV.
  • The ongoing war in Ukraine compelled the European Parliament to adopt a resolution strongly condemning the use of sexual and gender based violence as a weapon of war. The Parliament expressed deep concern about the growing number of reports of human trafficking, sexual violence, exploitation, rape and abuse by women and children fleeing Ukraine.


  • Global Spotlight Initiative –EU allocated EUR 500m to effectively deploy resources and stimulate action to end violence against women and girls, through 26 country programmes, across five regions, around six pillars
  • Human Rights and Democracy Programme is a major flagship tool of the EU. The overall objective is to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms, democracy and the rule of law worldwide . Budget to implement programmes for the period 2021-2027, is EUR 1,511,852,228
  • Crime and Security Programmes, which emphasize support for projects focusing on prevention and vulnerable groups , such as migrants
  • Research on Human Trafficking , Migration and Gender based Violence
  • Projects to support migrant and refugees in host countries such as ‘Fostering local communities of solidarity for migrants and refugees from Venezuela

Specific to our work in Trinidad and Tobago:

Migration and Gender Based Violence are two of the seven strategic political and operational priority areas in the Delegation’s Human Rights and Democracy Strategies and Implementation Plans for Trinidad and Tobago, since 2016

These strategic priorities are pursued through political and human rights dialogue with the Government, capacity building of CSOs through various projects and programs, and active public diplomacy campaigns that will allow for an effective and wide-reaching EU communication on its human rights and democracy priorities, and will build partnerships with the relevant stakeholders in the country.

  • Grants awarded to civil society organizations to implement projects

Examples of programmes we have supported in Trinidad and Tobago, which address the challenges of GBV among migrants

  1. The Spotlight Initiative, which addresses family violence in Trinidad and Tobago, and is implemented by UN agencies in collaboration with Government and civil society partners - has supported migrant women girls through:
  • The creation and operationalization of a bilingual hotline managed by the Family Planning Association of Trinidad and Tobago, providing free psychosocial support including counselling as well as referrals.    
  • The development of the Child Protection Information Management System, which includes referral and case management pathways for victims of trafficking.
  • The design and delivery of a GBV training programme for a migrant group of young persons – managed by the Heroes Foundation. Mini-grants have also been provided to the youth to implement small projects to sensitize their communities
  1. A Sexual Culture of Justice: Strengthening LGBTQI & GBV Partnerships, Capacity & Efficacy to Promote & Protect Rights in T&T is an activity-based, human rights project which was implemented by the University of the West Indies, Institute for Gender and Development Studies (IGDS) in collaboration with six LGBTI and feminist organisations in Trinidad and Tobago. Overall, this project produced new local/regional analysis and solutions for ways to approach and mitigate gender based violence and LGBTI discrimination. The project included urgent Support for Vulnerable Persons – including migrants
  2. The third project, targeting migrants, implemented by the Trinidad and Tobago Red Cross Society  – Response to Recovery: COVID 19: Reducing Vulnerability, Enhancing Resilience, addressed the needs of migrant communities in response to COVID via:
  • Psychosocial Support: 15 volunteers and staff of the Trinidad and Tobago Red Cross Society were trained to be Psychological First Aid (PFA) providers (all Spanish-speakers) to be able to provide essential psychosocial care to migrants who call or WhatsApp message in on their hotlines. If the situation warrants, the PFA provider can make a referral for additional support to one of the partners from the national mental health network for free professional counselling services.
  • Entrepreneurship training - entrepreneurship-training programme for  migrant women. Resulted in the development of 12 small businesses
  1. Study on Human Trafficking in Trinidad and Tobago. The aim of the study was to document the nature of human trafficking in Trinidad and Tobago and investigate the policy issues currently facing the government and other social actors and agencies working in this field.

The results indicate that these victims of trafficking are often individuals who might be considered refugees, but who are unable to enter Trinidad and Tobago along conventional pathways and are often unable to secure official identity or travel documents, or even may have difficulty qualifying for refugee status. Unfortunately, individuals who must rely on smuggling to migrate become vulnerable to being trafficked.

What is available to support GBV in general and migrants?

  • Grant funds EUR1.6 million for projects under our CSO and Human Rights and Democracy programmes available in early January
  • Regional Programmes - Trinidad and Tobago to participate in EUR 30m regional programmes in Governance, Security and Human Development
  • Technical Assistance  for agencies to develop policies, training and research
  • Opportunities to partner with the Delegation and other member states to support high level advocacy, visibility and networking to address these issues

In conclusion, the EU, which has a long history of addressing migration and GBV, has a number of policies and programmes, to address gender based violence and migration, among its member states and with third parties such as Trinidad and Tobago.

The Delegation is looking forward to continuing our partnership with stakeholders in support of these issues.

Thank You!