Jamaica joins the rest of the international community in observing 16 Days of Activism from November 25 to December 10, to end violence against women, the Jamaican Government’s website reports. Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Hon. Olivia Grange, said that throughout the period, her Ministry will be intensifying public awareness and education on the matter to the general public. “We are going to ensure that we empower women to know their rights, and to seek out help,” she stated.
She was speaking at a forum held last week Thursday (November 25) at the St. Andrew Parish Church Hall in observance of International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, which also marked the start of the 16 Days of Activism. December 10 is celebrated as International Human Rights Day.
Miss Grange said that the Government of Jamaica recognizes that violence against women is an ongoing concern and has been working to eliminate the scourge through policy development and implementation, ongoing collection of sex disaggregating data, program development and public education and training.
In addition the Ministry, through the Bureau of Women’s Affairs, has been involved in sustained action, including legal reform, aimed at eliminating such violence. She also noted that through the work of the Bureau, government workers, such as immigration officers, police officers and members of the justice system have received training and information on matters such as the trafficking of persons and sexual harassment.
Miss Grange said that the Government is well aware that culture and behavior change cannot be achieved without the full integration of the nation’s males, and as such, will be involving men and boys in the design, implementation and delivery of gender sensitive programs.
Since the start of the year, the Bureau, in collaboration with the United Nations Population Fund, has been partnering with men and boys in communities across Jamaica, resulting in the formation of the two groups, which were officially launched on Thursday. They are the Male Action Groups in Community and the Male Mentorship Program in Schools, which aims to get men actively involved in the elimination of gender-based violence.
The forum organized by the Bureau of Women’s Affairs, was held under the theme: ‘Changing Culture to End Violence Against Women.’
This year’s observance of International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women is considered to be of special significance as it serves the dual role of highlighting the achievements of women through the observance of Inter-American Year of Women, which was inaugurated by the Organization of American States, under the theme: ‘Women and Power: Towards a World Equality’.