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Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Culture, Youth, and Sports (MICYS), with responsibility for Gender and Women’s Affairs, Faith Innerarity, is urging Jamaicans to re-visit the way they socialise boys, if the country is to address the many negative behaviours and trends, being displayed by men in the society.
“If we are going to change the negative factors which we see operating in terms of our men in the society, it must begin with a change in the socialisation process. Boys should be taught to be responsible, and that responsibility extends to even doing domestic chores, as well as in terms of their sexual behaviour. It has to begin at the family level,” the Permanent Secretary told JIS News in an interview.
Mrs. Innerarity also highlighted the Ministry’s thrust, to incorporate men’s issues along with those of women, in a unified and coordinated approach to gender development.
“The goal is really one of gender equality, and it’s quite clear that there are instances in which specific groups of men are at a disadvantage. The idea is that we should ensure that those areas are addressed,” she explained, noting that the society needs the input of men and women to function at its best.
“We need both our men and our women, because they are complementary.. one to the other; so it is not a case that we are promoting women’s advancement at the expense of men. It is a case where we want to see both men and women play their roles in society on the basis of equality,” the Permanent Secretary informed.
Most of the Ministry’s gender activities and programmes are executed through and in collaboration with the Bureau of Women’s Affairs (BWA).
“From a policy standpoint we have what is called the Bureau of Women’s Affairs, which is now seeking to take on a much broader mandate, which would not just focus on women, but gender and development issues, which include those related to the situation of our men in the society,” Mrs. Innerarity noted.
To this end, the Permanent Secretary informed that closer ties and greater collaboration would be established between the BWA and male Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs).
“The Ministry is collaborating with NGOs, which are concerned with male issues. For example, Fathers Incorporated, and the BWA has indicated to the male NGOs, a willingness to provide some support in terms of capacity building,” she stated.
“In addition, there is a draft gender policy that has been developed, and that policy takes into account fully, men’s issues, and it is envisaged that, soon, the BWA will also establish a men’s desk, which would be responsible for examining and making proposals in terms of addressing male issues,” the Permanent Secretary added.
Mrs. Innerarity hopes that these developments and interventions will reverse some of the worrying trends in the society, such as the low performance of boys in schools, the involvement of young men in crime and violence, and the absence of fathers.
“In terms of the gender policy, we want to see our boys performing just as well as the girls in the school system, and, of course, right throughout the education system. We would want to see more men enrolled at the tertiary level, and more men fulfilling the father role. There are too many absentee fathers,” the Permanent Secretary lamented.
“In the area of crime and violence, we would want to see that being changed, where our young men become engaged constructively rather than in a destructive way in living a life of crime,” Mrs. Innerarity added.