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A six-month public education campaign, aimed at promoting gender equality, was officially launched today (March 8), by Minister with responsibility for Information, Senator the Hon. Sandrea Falconer.

Entitled 'The Way Out', the $7.5 million campaign, which also seeks to promote women's empowerment, is designed to support the implementation of the island's National Policy for Gender Equality.

The policy promotes fairness and equal justice for women and men at all levels of society.

The campaign is a joint effort by the Bureau of Women's Affairs (BWA) and the Dispute Resolution Foundation (DRF). It is funded through a policy implementation grant from the Fund for Gender Equality, administered by the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment (UN WOMEN).

Speaking at an International Women's Day function and launch of the campaign,  at the Wyndham Hotel, in Kingston, the Information Minister said that through the programme, Jamaicans will be aware of the issues and will understand their rights and responsibilities as citizens.  

"We also hope that we can dispel some of the long held social and cultural beliefs and give citizens the knowledge and tools to change their lives," she added.

The Minister argued that the campaign will also help women and girls to understand that violence is not the norm and is unacceptable.

"It is hoped that women and girls will be so empowered to reject abuse and report to the police and other agencies of the state any such act," she said.  

The campaign will include a jingle, the placement of radio and television features, public service announcements, posters, billboards, bus wrappers, the hosting of public fora as well as debates surrounding the policy.

Materials for the campaign will be developed by the Jamaica Information Service (JIS), which will also manage the placement for media houses.

Ms. Falconer commended the stakeholders in the development of the campaign and the National Policy for Gender Equality, for their outstanding work.

Some of the proposed outcomes for 'The Way Out' project are: to encourage the use of mediation to improve relations between women and men; training in gender mainstreaming for women and men; increased economic and political leadership capacity of women and girls; and increased public awareness of gender equality and Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).

The National Policy for Gender Equality will: reduce all forms of gendered discrimination and promote greater gender equality and social justice; strengthen institutional mechanisms and develop the skills and tools required to mainstream gender in cultural, social, economic and political institutions, structures and systems.

It also seeks to promote sustainable behaviour change and improve organisational effectiveness and the capacity of public sector entities to develop, implement and monitor gender responsive plans, projects, and programmes.

The celebration of International Women's Day marks the increasing recognition of the struggles of women against all forms of discrimination and exploitation, and focuses on the need for equality, national liberation, democracy, peace and progress in all countries of the world.  

The day was first celebrated in Jamaica in March 1978.