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Jamaica, for the first time, will stage an all-female sitting of Parliament for young women, ages 18 to 23, on International Women’s Day 2023.
The day will be observed on March 8.
The disclosure was made by Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and t, Hon. Olivia Grange, in her message at a Women’s Forum hosted by the Under Secretary-General and Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme for HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), Winifred Byanyima, at Liberty Hall in Kingston on Thursday, November 10.
In her message, which was read by Senator Natalie Campbell-Rodriquez, Minister Grange pointed out that the special sitting will be held under the Young Women’s Leadership (YWL) Initiative, which is a programme of the United Nations entity for gender equality and the empowerment of women (UN Women) and United Nations Volunteers (UNV).
The programme, which was launched in January 2021, is aimed at creating professional opportunities for leaders of tomorrow and to further enhance diversity in UN Women.
Minister Grange, in her message, said that recommendations are being made for capacity strengthening training of a cohort of young aspiring women leaders under the initiative.
She noted that Jamaica and other countries in the wider Caribbean region have made great strides in raising women’s economic and political power. “We have witnessed remarkable progress in health education and other sectors with regard to achieving parity between the sexes,” she said.
The Gender Affairs Minister pointed out further that 18 of the 63 Members of Parliament in the House of Representatives are women, so too eight of the 21 Senators in the Upper House.
“We have had a woman Prime Minister… a woman Chief Justice, we now have a woman Chief of Defence [Staff] and have seen women heading critical spaces in Jamaica,” she noted.
“We have introduced laws and policies to strengthen our gender architecture to address the issue of violence against women and girls,” she continued, noting that the National Policy for Gender Equality, which was passed in 2011, is currently under review.
Minister Grange said that while the Policy has achieved critical outcomes for Jamaica’s development, there are still “hurdles to cross to fully achieve parity between the sexes”.
She said that “as Minister with responsibility for gender affairs, I am pleased to see our younger generations and our men picking up the baton so confidently to galvanise our collective efforts for women to rise in Jamaica.”
She urged the gathering at the Women’s Forum, to “use this opportunity to rejuvenate our efforts for a better Jamaica, a better Caribbean and a better world, realising equal rights for women and men, girls and boys everywhere”.
Meanwhile, Minister Grange, commended the work of the local UNAIDS team and expressed the hope that the joint efforts will continue as the entity enables Jamaica to provide life-saving HIV services at a country level. Women from various sectors of the Jamaican society participated in the Women’s Forum.
It was one of a series of meetings and events held during the UNAIDS Under-Secretary General’s visit to the island from November 6-11, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health & Wellness.