Domestic Violence Survivors gain business skills to strengthen independence from abusive partners

Spotlight Initiative gears up to fund more training for survivors

May 30, 2023
Domestic violence survivors at small business training graduation

Domestic Violence survivors at their graduation from a women's economic empowerment programme that taught them small business and life skills.

Photo by
UNDP MCO in Jamaica

A total of 80 survivors of domestic violence from two parishes are now investing business skills and micro grants in their new or improved small business enterprises under a 17.1 Jamaican Dollar economic empowerment programme geared to cut their dependence on abusive partners.

The 80 new and previously established businesspersons include 20 women who recently graduated in Clarendon this year under phase 2 of the empowerment programme. The remaining 60 trained under phase one of the programme in 2022 include 40 from Clarendon in 2022; and 20 from St Thomas.  

Additional cohorts of survivors from other parishes are to be trained in coming months to ensure more women in crisis can secure their financial security.

The 5-month intensive programme in St Thomas and Clarendon which included micro grants for participants, falls under the Rural Women’s Economic Empowerment Project implemented by the Municipal Corporations of Clarendon and St Thomas with funding from the United Nations/European Union-funded Spotlight Initiative (SI). Other key partners are the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development and the Clarendon Parish Development Committee Benevolent Society.

Sessions included: Introduction to Entrepreneurship; business planning and development; identifying and dealing with abuse; conflict resolution; self-esteem; vision boarding; beauty and soap making skills.

The economic empowerment programme seeks to practically implement components of the violence against women and girls (VAWG) Prevention Strategy of the Local Sustainable Development Plan (LSDP) developed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).


graduation ceremony for domestic violence survivors

Graduates pay keen attention during their graduation which was covered by electronic and print media.

Photo by
UNDP MCO in Jamaica

In attendance at the graduation of the latest cohort in Clarendon, UNDP Resident Representative Denise E Antonio called for more investments targeting the social and economic wellbeing of vulnerable groups such as victims of domestic violence. “This can only strengthen local economies, and reduce inequalities and the cycle of violence, ensuring no one is left behind,” she stated.

In a charge to the graduates, she said, “…The path has been paved for your economic independence, free from abusive control …You send a powerful message to women in abusive situations that their circumstances do not define their lives; that there is hope, life and personal satisfaction in creatively monetizing your God-given skills”.

“Grasp this opportunity with both hands, you have been empowered to undertake your various entrepreneurial ventures. Serve as the champions of change within your respective communities and shine the spotlight on your continued contribution towards National Development and Vision 2030,” said His Worship the Mayor of May Pen, Councillor Winston Maragh.

He called on them to be mindful of their duty to prevent and reduce family violence, which mostly affects girls and women. “You must not be afraid to raise your voices in unity, and with a committed objective to stopping these atrocities from spreading like a viral disease. Use your voice to reduce and eliminate domestic,” he encouraged them.

The Spotlight Initiative in Jamaica which started January 2020 and will end in December 2023, is a united effort to eliminate violence against women & girls. SI is implemented by UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF and UNWOMEN. The UNDP Multi Country Office in Jamaica is assigned lead implementation responsibilities for two pillars under Jamaica's Spotlight Initiative programme - Pillar 1: Legislative and Policy Framework; and Pillar 2: Strengthening Institutions. Pillar 2 seeks to ensure that national and sub-national programmes prevent and respond to violence against women and girls. It is under this component that this rural women’s economic empowerment programme was conceptualized.