GIRLS Who Know Ja, a non-profit, grass roots, female empowerment movement spearheaded by young women across Jamaica, hosted a three-day summit last week to assist the public to better understand sexual harassment and other forms of gender-based violence.
The free event, dubbed #UNFILTERED: understanding sexual harassment, ran from last Wednesday to Friday for two hours each day. Each day was streamed live on Facebook and YouTube, with the videos still being available for viewing on the platforms.
In opening the summit, founder and chief feminist in charge, Chelsea Wright, said for far too long women have been silenced.
“As we host this summit, we are standing on the shoulders of giants who have paved the way before us,” she said.
The first day of the summit was geared towards understanding the sexual harassment Bill that is before Parliament, and other laws that are currently in place to protect individuals from gender-based violence. A panel, including human rights and social justice attorneys-at-law Christopher Harper and Melissa Simms, led the discussion on local and international laws related to sexual offences, and explained how trials are carried out.
“A part of the problem with how we legislate in Jamaica is that it is not necessarily done from a victim-centred or human rights approach,” Harper said.
Day two of the summit was geared towards understanding gender inequality from sociocultural, political, and economic perspectives. Among the panellists were social activist Carla Moore, marketer and gender advocate Antonette Hinds, and Professor Opal Palmer Adisa, who is the director of the Institute for Gender and Development Studies at The University of the West Indies.
“The first thing we can do is what we are doing. We need to, as a country, educate and say this is unacceptable,” Palmer Adisa said.
The third day focused on digital advocacy and strategy, particularly the international #MeToo movement in Jamaica. Speakers for that day included Dr Terri-Karelle Reid and Jomarie Malcolm, who shared their own experiences in the media space, and facilitated a discussion on social media advocacy and strategy, and the concept of the #MeToo movement. Dr Christopher Harper also shared resources for survivors of gender-based violence.
The summit is accessible for viewing on the Girls Who Know Ja YouTube channel, and summaries of each day can be viewed on Instagram and Facebook (@girlswhoknowja).