WATCH out, world — the Women's Empowerment Group is on the move! This lively bunch of approximately 25 women pulled from the Lyndhurst/Greenwich communities in Kingston are voluntarily spending their time learning about how to become better leaders, with the intention of using their training to develop not just themselves, but also their communities.
Noting figures from the Statistical Institute of Jamaica which state that as at April 2018, 53,300 women form part of Jamaica's unemployed labour force, and overall unemployment among women stands at 12.5 per cent, this group of women is determined to use their lives and experiences to help change the statistics.
The Women's Empowerment Group was formed in June this year after the group of 14 women was trained as participant researchers to help staff a project on Gender and the Paid-Unpaid Labour Nexus in Urban Jamaica, jointly implemented by the Women's Resource and Outreach Centre (WROC) and Wheaton College out of Massachussetts in the United States.
At the end of that project, the women expressed a desire to stay together and to continue working as a group. With the express intention of training a core of leaders in a number of livelihoods and social development issues, the Women's Empowerment Group is housed under the umbrella of WROC's Strengthening the Culture of Integrity in Jamaica (SCIJ) project, funded by the National Integrity Action and United States Agency for International Development.
Now in its first month of implementation, the project is making waves in the lives of its participants. Already they have gone through four workshops, with topics ranging from Growing in Social Graces , Introduction to Dining Etiquette, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, and Gender and Leadership. The energetic workshop facilitators have had participants doing everything from bellowing “I am woman; hear me roar” at the top of their lungs, to role-playing, playing catch and doing quizzes, to learning the ins and outs of fine dining, and how to become empowered leaders.
Noting the importance and necessity of the Women's Empowerment Group in areas like Lyndhurst and Greenwich, WROC Executive Director Nikiesha Sewell says that she is pleased with the progress they have made so far, and is happy that her organisation is able to effect positive change in participants' lives and communities, especially with the programme's emphasis on integrity.
WROC's SCIJ project is meant to promote integrity and reduce violence at a community level, as well as enhance the capacity of women and communities to build a social movement for integrity and gender justice, and against corruption.
The Women's Empowerment Group also receives support from WROC's partnership to promote patients' rights in maternal, neonatal and infant health projects, which encourages civil society advocacy from a human rights approach for maternal and child health in Jamaica.