Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Hon. Olivia Grange, is encouraging more women to get involved in representational politics. Speaking at the opening of the Regional Consultation for Parliamentarians, held on November 9, at the Terra Nova Hotel in Kingston, the Minister said that women’s involvement at that level can help in the development of policies necessary “to enhance not only their lives but also the lives of other women and men.”
‘It is not that male parliamentarians are not doing their part, but I call on more women to enter the political arena. An increase in female parliamentarians will bring issues affecting women and girls to the forefront of policy and legislative discussions,” the Minister argued.
Miss Grange said that if women’s participation in local and national government are improved, then their lives inside and outside of the political arena will also be advanced, adding that is important that Jamaica and the wider Caribbean adopt policies to improve the gender disparity that exists in representational politics. “Policy change is important in countering the dominant paradigm regarding gender roles and stereotypes,” she added.
Highlighting the work of the Bureau of Women’s Affairs, the Minister said the department had embarked on a 32-month project entitled: ‘The Way Out: Jamaican Women’s Political and Economic Empowerment’, which include leadership training and development to women across sectors to increase their capacity and knowledge.
She noted that it will also encourage their participation in politics as well as in other areas of power decision-making spheres of the country.
Additionally, Minister Grange said the public, members of the media and men in leadership positions will be targeted through a public education campaign, awareness and mediation training, to enable an environment conducive to accepting women in leadership.
Funds for the project, which commenced in January 2011, was provided through a grant from the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), now called UNWomen.
Miss Grange, who has responsibility for women and gender affairs, said the Government had given its full support to the National Policy for Gender Equality, to ensure that gender mainstreaming becomes an integral component of the development process.
“It is intended that over time, with the implementation of the policy, positive shifts will be accomplished to improve the work/life balance and increase the participation of women parliamentarians in Jamaica and by extension, through the sharing of lessons learned through the region,” she said.
Other presenters at the meeting were newly appointed Resident Co-ordinator and Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in Jamaica, Dr. Arun Kashyap; Minister of State in the Ministry of Education, Sports and Youth Affairs of Antigua and Barbuda, Senator the Hon. Winston Williams, and Senior Manager, United Nations Secretary-General’s UNITE to End Violence against Women Campaign, Nadine Gasman.
The two-day meeting, spearheaded by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Caribbean Office, in collaboration with UN partners, is one of a number of regional and national events resulting from the official launch of the campaign, UNITE to End Violence Against Women in October 2010.
The campaign has the overall objective of raising public awareness and increasing political will and resources for preventing and responding to violence against women and girls.