All Woman

KSAC approves motion to establish women’s caucus

BY CLAUDIENNE EDWARDS Observer writer

Thursday, May 15, 2014    

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A motion moved by Mayor of Kingston Angella Brown Burke to establish a Kingston and St Andrew Corporation (KSAC) women's caucus aimed at reducing gender inequalities and improving gender governance practices was approved at Tuesday's council meeting.

The resolution was seconded by Councillor Tosha Schwapp, the minority leader of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP).

In arguing for the women's caucus, Brown Burke pointed to the World Economic Forum in its Political Empowerment sub-index which compared the number of years that a country has had a female head of state over the last 50 years. Iceland ranked number one, Nicaragua five, South Africa eight, and Cuba 13, while Jamaica ranked 74.

The mayor said that since 1991, 14 Latin American countries had implemented gender quotas that allowed the region to establish one of the highest levels of women's representation in political decision-making structures around the world. She said that the region boasted five female heads of state in Argentina, Costa Rica, Brazil, Trinidad and Jamaica.

Brown Burke said that despite the fact that there had been four female mayors in Kingston and St Andrew over the last 50 years and that both the People's National Party and JLP had in the last 16 years placed a greater number of females in obviously winning seats in the Corporate Area, that situation was not typical of the rest of Jamaica.

In pressing for gender equity the mayor said that the two questions needed to be asked are: Do we have enough women who are equipped to lead (not just participate/support) and If not...what programmes do we need to implement?

"There is a national culture of women as strong, fundamental supporters (but) how do we instigate the cultural change/mindset?" the mayor questioned.

She noted that in governance, economy, health and education, the needs of women and men are different.

JLP Councillor Delroy Williams of the Seivright Gardens Division supported the motion but cautioned that the women's caucus should move carefully. He said that the caucus should consider the views of persons islandwide in arriving at their positions.

However, JLP Councillor Duane Smith of the Chancery Hall Division said he did not support the resolution as he does not believe the KSAC women's caucus could solve the problem.

"None of the five countries you mention have a female prime minister, chief justice, mayor and Director of Public Prosecution as was the case in Jamaica," Smith said.

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