JIS News

Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Hon. Olivia Grange, has said that the Government is working to make the country’s justice system more efficient and fairer to women and girls.
“The Bureau of Women’s Affairs has made a submission to the Jamaican Justice System Reform Task Force on a number of ways to provide women and girls equal protection under the law, and equal access to justice,” Miss Grange said.
The Minister, who also has responsibility for Women and Gender Affairs, was speaking at a consultation spearheaded by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to examine the issue of violence against women and girls in Jamaica, at the Knutsford Court Hotel, New Kingston, Wednesday (June 17).
She noted that the Bureau has also facilitated the reform and development of major women/gender related policy documents, including the National Policy Statement on Women, to address the treatment of women in national development.
“A draft policy on sexual harassment has been developed to propose terms and provisions for the enactment of sexual harassment legislation to provide redress for women and men in the workplace, educational institutions, and in accommodation. The draft is being finalised for submission to Cabinet,” she also informed.
Minister Grange noted that Government is also moving to give each citizen in the country protection against discrimination based on sex under the Constitution.
“The Bureau of Women’s Affairs found that the rights and freedoms declared in the present Constitution did not extend to discrimination on the basis of ‘sex’. So we are moving to change that with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Constitutional Amendment) Bill,” she explained.
Miss Grange, said that Government has also been taking steps towards achieving greater gender equality in the country. She made note of the gender-neutral Property (Rights of Spouses) Act of 2004, which introduced new statutory rules to provide for the equitable division of assets between spouses.
The Minister also pointed to the Maintenance Act of 2005, which made provisions for maintenance within the family, and confers equal rights and obligations on spouses with respect to the support of each other and their children.
Chief of the Gender and Human Rights and Culture Branch at the UNFPA, Aminata Toure, said that Jamaica is playing a leading role in terms of addressing gender issues.
“Jamaica is being looked at in many countries…because your record is known in terms of advancing gender equality,” she said.
United Nations (UN) Resident Co-ordinator and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative in Jamaica, Minh Pham, said that UNDP would be providing approximately $15 million to support the Government of Jamaica in a community safety programme.
“The UNDP will shortly embark on support to the department of Local Government that will improve community safety, especially women’s and girls’ safety,” he said.
He said that this will be done through capacity building at the local Government level, using instruments such as women safety audits and local safety appraisals.
The consultation which ended on Thursday June 18 highlights various responses to gender-based violence in Jamaica and provide participants with information on the work of the Global UN Inter-Agency Task Force on Violence Against Women.

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