Women's groups collaborate for expo
WOMEN'S organisations have traditionally hosted separate events to commemorate International Women's Day on March 8, however, this year will see the coming together of several groups to host a women's expo at the University of the West Indies, Mona campus.
The Women's Resource and Outreach Centre Limited (WROC) in partnership with the Institute for Gender and Development Studies (IGDS), Mona Unit, as well as the Bureau of Women's Affairs will be collaborating to host the expo under the theme, 'Celebrating Women'. The event's opening ceremony is expected to begin at 10 o'clock at the university's Undercroft, while the expo will be on the lawns adjacent to the Assembly Hall.
Executive director for WROC Dorothy Whyte believes the event will help to showcase the work being done by the various women's organisations and entrepreneurs.
"The goal is to show how women are empowering themselves and really developing and making really serious contributions to the growth of our country," she said.
"We are going to be having a number of booths from different companies; the focus is going to be on women-related activities. We are catering to university students, not just UWI, but all the universities and the wider public."
Whyte said they are hoping to have about 20 booths on display showcasing the products and services offered by individuals or companies in the public and private sector. Free HIV testing will be carried out while representatives will also be present from the Jamaica Cancer Society. Meanwhile, special guest speaker for the event will be Jacqueline Sharp who is the first female president and CEO of the Scotia Group.
Dr Leith Dunn, who heads the IGDS, Mona unit, said she sees the collaboration as a partnership for national development, as it will help to put some focus on the issue of women's economic empowerment.
"We want to expose our students who are graduating to a number of these organisations so they too can benefit from and see opportunities for their own development. It is also about career development for our men because at the institute, gender relations is about both males and females," she said.
Also partnering with the women's groups is the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). Assistant representative for the organisation's sub-regional office for the Caribbean Melissa McNeil-Barrett noted that the theme of the women's expo is in line with the focus of the 58th session of the Commission on the Status of Women which was centred on equality for women being progress for all.
"We wanted to use the opportunity to highlight the achievements that have been made in terms of gender equality, but also to highlight the gaps that still remain. Among them is the issue having to do with access to sexual and reproductive health services for women and for young people as well, particularly young girls," she said.
Whyte said booth registration is still taking place and implored organisations to make contact to secure their spot.
-- Nadine Wilson