JIS News

Targeting laws that protect women and girls from violence

The European Union/United Nations (UN) Spotlight Initiative (SI) in Jamaica has launched a series of Virtual Roundtables on local legislation underpinning the protection of women and girls from violence.

The series, led by UNDP Multi Country Office in Jamaica, kicked off in December with a lunchtime roundtable on Jamaica’s draft Sexual Harassment Bill. The event featured a presentation on the provisions of the bill, local best practices in victim protection and practical tips on how to identify and handle sexual harassment.

Additional roundtables are planned for 2021 focusing on legislation targeted for review under pillar one of SI and highlighting resources to support women and girls in need. Target legislation includes the Sexual Offences Act; Offences Against the Persons Act; Domestic Violence Act and Child Care and Protection Act.

The virtual series is intended to introduce UN/Spotlight Initiative’s legislative agenda and thought leadership with respect to eliminating violence against women and girls, and to facilitate expert and public discussions and feedback on relevant legislation while highlighting helpful resources for victims. The series will be supplemented by a social media campaign dubbed ‘Legal Spotlight’ to highlight select provisions, gaps and other key highlights from the local legislation.

UNDP Resident Representative Antonio affirmed that the Spotlight Initiative implemented by UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF and UN Women remains committed to a holistic and multidimensional approach to the shared mission of ending violence in all forms against women and children. “Legislative overhaul is a necessary part of that process as individual rights and state institutions that are strengthened will provide a bulwark against violence,” she said.

Spotlight Initiative Jamaica Programme Coordinator Novia McKay indicated that “Having legislation in place that is gender responsive and human rights based will ensure that Jamaica maintains its commitment as outlined in the National Strategic Plan to eliminate Gender Based Violence. The UN through the Spotlight Initiative remains a firm partner in this.”

The Spotlight Initiative is a global, multi-year partnership between the European Union and the United Nations to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls. Launched with a seed funding commitment of €500 million from the European Union, the initiative represents an unprecedented global effort to invest in gender equality and women’s empowerment as a precondition and driver for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

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