US Embassy rewards community groups

Staff reporter

Sunday, April 01, 2018

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THREE community-based organistations have been awarded grants by the US Embassy Kingston to aid their projects centered on the education, mentorship, economic sustainability and social responsibility of women.

The grants were awarded after the US Embassy had requested proposals for its Women's History Month 2018 Grants Programme and selected 11 finalists who participated in a Women's Empowerment Pitch Competition on March 28 at the Old Hope Road institution.

As part of the requirements the proposals had to demonstrate creativity, substance, and relevance to national goals and be aligned to the US State Department Goals primarily safeguarding the homeland and US citizens, increasing trade and shared economic growth, addressing Caribbean health challenges and strengthening the US/Jamaica partnership on global issues locally, regionally and internationally.

The organisations — Eve For Life, Her Flow and Youth Can Do I.T — were awarded US $20,000 each which will be used in their projects to promote empowerment of women and girls locally.

Her Flow conceptualised by Shelly-Ann A Weeks will include a digital awareness campaign executed online via social media and digital advertising aimed at ending period poverty in Jamaica through education and mentorship to eradicate the stigma and shame associated with a woman's menstural flow. Weeks' main objective is to provide period kits that include sanitary products like pads, tampons, tissue and wipes to schools that will be free to students when needed. She also hopes to start a conversation around period poverty.

Eve For Life's project dubbed “Mobilising communities to end sexual abuse and the sexual exploitation of adolescent girls and young women in Jamaica” and led by co-founder and director Joy Crawford, is expected to increase awareness and community engagement in responding to sexual abuse and exploitation of young women locally. The targetted communities include Truro in Westmoreland and Barrett Town in St James. There will also be a dissemination of resources to vulnerable young women on sexual violence, abuse and trafficking in persons.

Youth Can Do I.T (YCDI) led by founder Lianne McNaughton will have a pilot YCDI Women in I.T Mentoring Programme expected to run for one year and expose 25 to 40 girls from high schools in Kingston and St Andrew to the STEM industry, moreso, Information Technology. The girls will also get the opportunity to be matched with professional women in various IT careers, attend technology workshops ans training sessions and attend the Grace Hopper Women in Computing Conference in Houston, Texas this September.

Jeremiah Knight, counsellor for public affairs at the US Embassy, in his opening statements about the competition explained that the idea for the business pitch model emerged as something relevant and impacting to celebrate Women's History Month.

Knight, who commended the efforts of the participants and encouraged those who were not awarded to strengthen and continue their projects, added that the grant pitch would provide the avenue to tangibly assist women to change their economic status and that of their environs.

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