Increased Access to Information Will Empower Women – Senator Falconer


Minister with responsibility for Information, Senator the Hon. Sandrea Falconer, says the Government is committed to continuing the empowerment of the nation’s women and girls, through increased access to information.

“The government fully supports access to information and liberalisation of information flows, particularly critical scientific and technical information. We believe that women stand to benefit more from this open access. Women are natural information carriers and facilitators, playing a pivotal, if sometimes unrecognised, role in building knowledge societies and fostering a thirst for information,” she said.

Senator Falconer was speaking on the topic: ‘The Role of Women in the Building of Knowledge Societies’, at the closing of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Regional Open Access Consultation, held at the Wyndham Hotel in New Kingston, on March 8.

The Minister argued  that open access to information is what women need to fully exploit the role they are uniquely positioned to play, pointing out that the more opportunities are opened to women, the more impactful their role and influence will be, particularly as nurturers and conveyers of knowledge.

“In building knowledge societies, women’s particular approach to knowledge creation has the potential to create  a more peaceful, harmonious and  empathetic world, where people, and not things, are at the centre; where values, and not stocks, are primary and where relationships and emotional intelligence trump ‘one-upmanship’ and  arrogance,” she said.

Senator Falconer pointed out that Jamaica has been a leader in gender empowerment in the region, noting that the country was the first English speaking state country in the region to achieve universal adult suffrage and grant women the right to be elected to Parliament.

“Today, Jamaica has a female Prime Minister who is serving her second term and, of course, I am a female Minister with responsibility for Information, and there are two other females in our Cabinet,” she said.

The Minister further noted other advancements in Jamaica, aimed at the empowerment of women. She cited the establishment of a women’s desk nearly 40 years ago to assist in promoting policies and programmes to integrate women’s concerns into national development; the setting up of the Bureau of Women’s Affairs in 1972, the first national women’s machinery in the Caribbean; and the establishment of the Women’s Centre of Jamaica Foundation in 1978 to reintegrate adolescent mothers into the education system.

Ms. Falconer further posited that Jamaica has some of the most progressive pieces of women’s rights legislation.

“Enshrined in our Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms is the right to non-discrimination on the basis of gender,” she pointed out.  

The Minister commended UNESCO and its partners who have collaborated for the Consultation . “It is my hope that it will contribute to moving us from ‘access denied’ to ‘open access’ as we seek to expand humanity’s store of knowledge,” she said.

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative, Dr. Arun Kashyap, said the UN considers open access to information vital, pointing out that it empowers citizens and creates equitable access to cutting edge research information, knowledge and outcomes.

“Open access to information, I am confident, will further the vision to advance gender equity in every sphere of  the lives and livelihoods of the global citizens,” he said.

This was the first Regional Latin American and Caribbean Consultation on Open Access to Scientific Information and Research, organised by the Government, in collaboration with the UNESCO Kingston Cluster office, University of West Indies and UNESCO National Commission for Jamaica.

Some 30 experts and policy specialists from 25 Countries met from March 5 to 8, to develop strategies and a road map to implement open access policies in the Latin American and Caribbean region.

The main objective of the consultation was to share how free and unrestricted access to research and scholarly communication can increase the impact of research and benefit research institutions, authors, journal publishers and the society as a whole. The consultation also examined how the context of open access in the region can add to the productivity, visibility and accessibility of research and research outcomes.

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