Executive Director, Bureau of Women's Affairs, Faith Webster, says the Government has embarked on a process of gender mainstreaming, to ensure that gender is integrated into all policies, programmes and plans.
Mrs. Webster noted that the Bureau has been charged with the responsibility to lead the process of gender mainstreaming in the public sector. “So, for the past two years we have been trying to see specifically how we can integrate gender into all the various sectors of government,” she said.
The Executive Director was addressing members of various public sector agencies and departments during a training workshop on HIV/AIDS and Gender Equality for Gender Focal Points in the Public Sector, held at the Hotel Four Seasons in Kingston, on October 31.
Mrs. Webster also informed that much training and sensitisation has taken place over the last two years with representatives from the public sector, which has resulted in a better understanding of gender issues among civil servants.
“We are quite pleased to see the high level of enthusiasm and participation, which the various groups have shown. It makes us feel very good that people now understand the whole issue of gender, because once, gender was a concept that was so far removed, but now persons are really relating it to their everyday life,” she said.
"They have really grasped the concepts and the issues and begun to utilise lessons learnt in their own work,” she added.
Gender Equality and HIV Technical Advisor, National HIV Programme (NHP), Patricia Phillips, explained that a major focus of the NHP is to halt and reverse the spread of HIV in Jamaica by 2015.
She pointed out that the issues of gender inequality and HIV/AIDS are interconnected and therefore must be “be looked at together,” in order to achieve the desired results.
“We will therefore seek to build your (public sector workers) competence to identify that gender equality and HIV has a connection and to enable you to contribute the gender perspective in your workplaces, when your workplace takes on the HIV response,” she said.
Ms. Phillips noted that public officials, who have been exposed to gender training through the intervention of the BWA, are strategically positioned to influence policies and programmes that address the issue of HIV in the workplace.
The training workshop was organised by the Ministry of Health, in collaboration with ‘The Way Out’ United Nations Women Project, the Bureau of Women’s Affairs, and the Office of the Prime Minister.
The objectives of the seminar were to review basic HIV information and values clarification; to understand HIV as an issue of gender relations of power, gender in/equality, and human rights; to equip participants with a framework for integrating gender equality and human rights into the HIV workplace response; and to identify the role and basic actions that gender focal points can perform in contributing a gender perspective to the HIV workplace response.
Among the Ministries, agencies and departments represented at the seminar were: Ministries of Youth and Culture; Science, Technology, Energy and Mining; Industry, Investment and Commerce; Education; and Labour and Social Security; the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF); Office of the Children’s Advocate; and the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ).