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    Story Highlights

    • Mrs. Ffolkes-Abrahams argued that no society can truly prosper without fully utilising the potential of all its members, including the entrepreneurial spirit of both its men and women.
    • Mrs. Ffolkes-Abrahams pointed to the need for the mainstreaming of gender in disaster-risk management.
    • Women and girls, who account for an estimated half of the 200 million people affected annually by natural disasters, are usually at greater risk from natural hazards than men.

    Minister of State in the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Sharon Ffolkes-Abrahams, says advancing gender equality is crucial to the development process and is a high priority of the Government.

    “It is only through gender mainstreaming that it can be ensured that the needs of both men and women are incorporated into policies and programmes. This will ensure that men and women have equal opportunity to assist in the development of our nation. It is through gender equality that we can ensure sustainable development,” she said.

    The State Minister, who was speaking at a gender mainstreaming workshop on January 15 at the Terra Nova Hotel in Kingston, argued that no society can truly prosper without fully utilising the potential of all its members, including the entrepreneurial spirit of both its men and women.

    “For us, therefore, gender equality is not just a matter of human rights, democracy, and freedom; it is also about building the economy,” she stated.

    She added that this is even more paramount as the country strives to achieve its Vision 2030 mission of making Jamaica the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business.

    Mrs. Ffolkes-Abrahams said the Government’s commitment to gender equality and the empowerment of women, is reflected in international commitments such as the Commonwealth Plan of Action for Gender Equality.

    “We are signatory to treaties, such as the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). National framework policies like Vision 2030, and the National Policy for Gender Equality, also highlight Jamaica’s commitment to ensuring that gender equality is incorporated in the development process to ensure sustainable development,” she stated.

    Mrs. Ffolkes-Abrahams, in her address, pointed to the need for the mainstreaming of gender in disaster-risk management, noting that research shows that disasters reinforce, perpetuate and increase gender inequalities, therefore widening the gap between men and women.

    Women and girls, who account for an estimated half of the 200 million people affected annually by natural disasters, are usually at greater risk from natural hazards than men, particularly in low-income countries and among the poor, she pointed out.

    The State Minister said it is essential that measures are put in place to address gender-based violence (GBV), especially in times of disasters.

    These include: ensuring that there are designated and well lit bathrooms for males and females; minimising shared accommodations; and supporting and assisting groups with special needs such as the disabled, female-headed households, and unaccompanied children

    “Certainly, these may seem like logical things that should be automatically implemented. But it is in times of emergency that these small measures are forgotten and instances of GBV may arise,” Mrs. Ffolks-Abrahams stated.

    The workshop, which is slated to end on January 16, is being held under the theme: ‘Mainstreaming Gender in Disaster Risk Reduction: Ensuring Equality, Promoting Sustainable Development’. It is organised by the Jamaica Red Cross.

    The workshop aims to strengthen awareness of the need for a consistent systematic response to gender inequality in Jamaica.