Hectic but Rewarding First 100 Days for Information Ministry


The first 100 days in office were hectic but chock-full of achievements for Minister of Information, Culture, Youth and Sports, Olivia Grange, as she carried out the Ministry’s multi-faceted portfolio, which also include gender issues.
Minister Grange, speaking at a stakeholder’s meeting organized by the Bureau of Women’s Affairs in November, informed that the government is moving to implement a programme, which will provide for the establishment of shelters and half-way-houses across the island, for battered women and girls.
“I will be working assiduously with the Bureau of Women’s Affairs and other partners to devise a shelter strategy, which will make the provision of at least three shelters throughout the island, a reality,” she informed.
The move, she said, is to address the “serious displacement, homelessness and hopelessness that women, who face domestic crisis, often suffer.”
In addition, she said the government is undertaking several initiatives to afford greater protection for women and girls, who are victims of gender-based violence. These efforts include “new and amended legislation, such as the Domestic Violence Act, the Incest Punishment Act and the Offences against the Person Act, which have all been revised to more adequately address the contemporary needs of our women and girls.”
Noting that the Incest Punishment Act and the section of the Offences Against the Person Act that relate to rape and other areas of sexual violence enjoyed wide discussion at the Joint Select Committee of Parliament throughout the year, she said that a proposal to combine all issues relating to sexual abuse under one sexual offences bill, was a unanimous decision from both sides of the House.
She informed that a Sexual Harassment policy has also been developed and will pave the way for the drafting of legislation to protect women from sexual harassment in the workplace and other institutions. In addition, she informed that the Optional Protocol from the United Nations, a Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), which sets up an agenda for national action to end such discrimination, will be ratified shortly.
“This protocol will provide greater recourse for women through a communication and enquiry procedure in cases where there may be serious violation of their rights,” she informed.
In the meantime, the recently completed National Gender Policy, which was handed over to the Minister at the meeting, will employ a multi-sectoral approach to address issues such as legislation and human rights, labour, economic empowerment for vulnerable women, gender-based violence, education and culture, reproductive rights and HIV, some male concerns and gender mainstreaming.
While noting that she is aware of the challenges being encountered by various women’s organizations, Miss Grange urged both government and non-governmental women activist groups “to continue to work diligently to improve the cause and lot of women, who experience discrimination and violence,” further assuring that “women affairs and gender matters will be at the top of my list.”
Under the Culture portfolio, Minister Grange announced that Jamaica was being considered a possible site for the Underwater Cultural Heritage Regional Centre of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNSECO). The Minister pointed out that Jamaica was at the top of the list of countries to host the regional centre, which will serve the Caribbean and Latin America.
She also announced that the annual Independence celebrations will be re-vitalized to include traditional festivities such as street parades, marching bands and the popular grand gala.
Still on culture, Miss Grange said that a $90 million contract has been signed for the rehabilitation of the St. William Grant Park, downtown Kingston, work on which will commence in the middle of January.
She stated that the Government is committed to the redevelopment of downtown, adding “we have issued an order preventing any government ministry, department or agency from moving out of downtown Kingston to uptown without Cabinet approval. They need to have very good reasons to get approval (to move).”
The Jamaica National Bicentenary Committee also launched its Ancestral Arrival Point Monument Design Competition in September to attract artists from Jamaica and the Diaspora, who can design a slave monument for the Kingston waterfront. This project will mark Jamaica’s 200th anniversary of the abolition of the Trans-Atlantic trade in Enslaved Africans. The winner will receive a cash prize of $552,000.
National Youth Month 2007 was observed in November under the theme: ‘I am the Inspiration’, which calls on the youth to take charge of their own success.
responsibility of achieving success in the hands of the Jamaican youth. “We recognized that Jamaica’s young people are advocates for their right to be and become. ‘I am the inspiration’ calls for the youth to embrace the responsibilities that come with these rights,” she said.
Activities undertaken during the month’s Youth Run, which began in Port Maria, St. Mary and passed through the parishes of St. Ann, Trelawny and St. James before ending in Hanover. There was also a National Marching Band Competition; National Youth Parliament at Gordon House; International Students Day; and National Sports Day.
The highlight of the month’s activities was the Prime Minister’s National Youth Awards for Excellence, which was held on December 2. At the awards ceremony, special recognition was given to 17 young people, who contributed significantly to nation building through community service, sport, agriculture, culture, academia and entrepreneurship, among other areas.
This year’s recipients were: Christopher Wilks, Vanessa Tennant, Rohan Hall, Andrew Gordon, Kevon Rhiney, Jamaica Youth Centre, Oneil Peart, Felicia Blake, Tamian Beckford, Andrew Francis, Carrie Russell, Brandon Wilson, Adishane Playfair, Stephen Williams, Brandon Allwood, Horace Mills and a quartet of Northern Caribbean University students.
Minister Grange, speaking at a roundtable discussion in October, said that the government will accelerate the establishment of Youth Information Centres (YIC) across the island.
She noted that the YICs, as central points of access for the youth, were poised to play a greater role in the prevention of HIV/AIDS as well as provide opportunities for young people to be tested.Activities in sports were highlighted by the official funeral for sport icon, the Hon. Herbert McKenley, who died on November 26.
Minister Grange, who chaired the Inter-Ministerial Committee, which organized the funeral, declared an official period of mourning of three days for the legend, which commenced on December 6 and ended on the day of his funeral, December 8. The official funeral service was held at the National Arena and his body interred in National Heroes Park.
The Ministry also took the opportunity to acknowledge spectacular performances by Jamaican sport personalities. These acknowledgments included: the presentation of the IAAF Performance of the Year Award to Asafa Powell for erasing his previous world record to 9:74 seconds at a meet in Rieti, Italy; the Sunshine Girls winning the bronze medal at World Netball Championships in Auckland, New Zealand; the Jamaica Cricket team becoming 2007 Regional KFC Limited Overs Cup Winners; and the Jamaican contingent earning a record medal haul at the Special Olympics.
The Minister, in October, announced that a seven-member Committee headed by Professor Rex Nettleford, was appointed by Cabinet to review the system for the awarding of national honours and awards. Minister Grange said that the team will also be required to make recommendations on the changes that may be necessary to preserve and enhance the value of national awards, while ensuring that the appropriate recognition is given to those who render outstanding service to the nation.

JIS Social