Minister of Youth and Culture, Hon. Lisa Hanna, says that Jamaica is well on its way to achieving most of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
She said that recent assessments indicate that the country is expected to meet targets for poverty reduction, infant and child nutrition, primary education and access to safe drinking water.
Ms. Hanna was speaking at the 7th annual Caribbean Child Research Conference on November 7 at the Jamaica Conference Centre, downtown Kingston.
The MDGs are eight international development goals agreed on by world leaders through the adoption of the United Nations Millennium Declaration in September 2000. All 193 United Nations member states and at least 23 international organisations have agreed to achieve these goals by the year 2015.
The MDGS are: eradicating extreme poverty and hunger; achieving universal primary education; promoting gender equality and empowering women; reducing child mortality; improving maternal health; combating HIV and AIDS; ensuring environmental sustainability; and developing a global partnership for development.
Noting Jamaica's progress, the Youth Minister informed that enrolment in primary and junior secondary school is now near universal levels at some 81.3 per cent, while access to safe water and sanitation facility has improved considerably, with coverage at 99.9 per cent.
Ms. Hanna however pointed out that, Jamaica is not expected to meet targets for infant and maternal deaths. “The country is also lagging in the area of gender equality, particularly as it relates to male underperformance in education and the issue of a higher rate of unemployment for women, despite their educational gains, and the fact that we have legislation that (stipulates) equal pay for equal work,” she remarked.
In the meantime, the Minister indicated that Jamaica has come a far way in meeting its commitments to the nation’s children. “This is certainly the case from a policy and legislative standpoint,” she said.
She noted that major achievements have been made with the creation of organisations such as the Child Development Agency (CDA), Office of the Children’s Registry (OCR), and the Office of the Children’s Advocate (OCA), which are products of the 2004 Child Care and Protection Act. These measures, she said, have assisted in strengthening the institutional framework for child protection.
Also, in June the government launched the Child Protection Database, which was developed to help with the improved targeting of interventions for children by the various local and international agencies.
The two-day conference, which was being held from November 6 to 7, is organised by the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies (SALISES), in collaboration with several entities including the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), OCA and the OCR.
Under the theme: ‘Political Independence and Child Rights: Promoting Child Rights Through Research’, the main objectives of the conference are to: promote a culture of research among students in the high schools in the Caribbean; recognise the work of child researchers in child-related research; and disseminate findings from such research.