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Recognizing that gender equality and women’s empowerment are fundamental to the global mission of the United Nations to achieve equal rights and dignity for all, this year’s observance of International Women’s Day, March 8, under the theme – Equal Rights, Equal Opportunities: Progress for All, is a call to action to renew efforts to ensure full realization of the landmark Beijing Declaration.
World leaders have developed a roadmap to realizing equality of opportunity for all, enshrined in a series of conventions and protocols including: the Millennium Development Goals, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women.
Women generally represent the majority of the world’s poor and face injustices stemming from gender discrimination. In a message to mark the Day, Minh Pham, United Nations Resident Coordinator in Jamaica, commended the Government and people of Jamaica for the strides that have been made towards the achievement of gender equality.
“Among other things, Jamaica has improved its collection and use of gender disaggregated data to guide policy and programmes, critical legislation and legislative reform have been introduced to ensure greater protection of the rights of women; Jamaica’s National Development Plan -Vision 2030 includes a gender sector Plan and a newly developed National Gender Policy, when enacted, will further promote gender equality and women’s empowerment”, he noted.
He called for timely implementation of the National Gender Policy, which he identified as crucial to reducing the major barriers to the full empowerment of women which persist. Among those barriers he cited were: higher levels of unemployment, confinement to lower-waged occupations, vulnerability to all forms of violence and women’s low representation in decision-making. In addition, he noted the global fuel and financial crises have served to worsen the condition of life of the majority of the world’s people, especially women and families, and threaten the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.
In the face of these challenges, the UN official affirmed the continued commitment of the UN Country team to continued collaboration with the government and people of Jamaica and reiterated their pledge to continue to support national efforts “to ensure equity in the status of women and men; and the full achievement of the MDGs in Jamaica.”
As part of the observance of International Women’s Day, a review of the achievements since the implementation of the Beijing Plan of Action in 1995 will be conducted at UN Headquarters in New York, during the 54th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), March 1-12. Jamaica has submitted a country update for this review.
Locally, the UN Country team is collaborating with the Bureau of Women’s Affairs to host a discussion forum on the Status of Women: The Impact on Women’s health with special reference to HIV/AIDS. The forum will be held at the Jamaica Conference Centre on Monday March 8, beginning at 1:30 pm.