THE inaugural Gender Equality Awards, hosted by the High Commission of Canada in Jamaica, were a resounding success. The event celebrated significant achievements in the pursuit of gender equality in Jamaica, with 12 awards presented to individuals, private sector and local organisations for their extraordinary contributions to the advancement of gender equality and women's empowerment.
Moderated by Canada's #SheLeadsHere Advocate Dainalyn Swaby, the recipients of the 2023 Gender Equality Awards were announced by the High Commission of Canada on November 2 at a gala event attended by advocates, influencers, and organisations dedicated to creating a more inclusive and equitable society.
Emina Tudakovic, High Commissioner of Canada, expressed her profound appreciation for the award winners' unwavering commitment to advancing gender equality.
"In an increasingly interconnected world, Canada is committed to collaborating with Jamaica to enhance its capacity to promote gender equality across all sectors. We take pride in acknowledging these trailblazers of gender equality and extend our heartfelt congratulations to all the remarkable awardees here today. We eagerly anticipate the continuation of our partnership with you," she stated.
The keynote address was delivered by Senator Kamina Johnson-Smith, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, on behalf of Olivia Grange, Minister for Culture, Gender, Entertainment, and Sport. In her address, the minister congratulated the nominees and awardees for their outstanding contributions to closing the gender gap and reaffirmed Jamaica's commitment to addressing gender inequality in all areas.
The High Commission received a total of 50 nominations across 10 categories, with two categories selected internally by the High Commission team.
NOTABLE AWARD HIGHLIGHTS:
•The BIG Impact Award for a Canada Fund for Local Initiatives project was presented to Jamaican Women in Coffee (JAWIC) for their exceptional commitment to advancing gender equality.
•The BIG Impact Award for Canada's International Assistance Project was presented to the Women`s Voice and Leadership Caribbean Project for their tangible and impactful results in promoting gender equality.
•The Women's Empowerment and Leadership Award recognised Shirley Pryce, founder and president of the Jamaica Household Workers Union (JHWU), for her remarkable achievements in promoting women's empowerment.
•Emerging Changemakers Award recipient, 20-year-old UWI student Amanda Slew, was celebrated as an inspiring young visionary driving transformative change in the gender equality landscape.
•The Bank of Nova Scotia was awarded for their Scotiabank's Women Initiative, propelling women entrepreneurs and women-owned businesses forward.
•As a non-governmental organisation, the Jamaica Network of Rural Producers was recognised for their evidenced contributions to enhancing economic empowerment and entrepreneurship among women.
•The Gender-Based Violence Prevention and Response Award acknowledged organisations and individuals making impactful contributions in this area. The organisational award was given to Eve for Life, which has been supporting young women and children affected by HIV/AIDS since 1998. Joy Crawford, co-founder of Eve for Life, received an individual award for her 45+ years of dedication to gender-based violence, community service, and advocacy. Retired Deputy Commissioner of Police Novelette Grant also received an individual award for her commendable work including training, facilitation, mentorship, and domestic, sexual, and gender-based violence intervention and prevention.
•The Institute of Gender and Development Studies Regional Coordinating Office, the Mona Unit, Dr Shelly-Ann Weeks, and Her Flow Foundation were recognised for their outstanding work in advancing gender equality in education.
•The Media and Gender Equality Award was presented to WMW Jamaica and the Jamaican Dadz Podcast.
•The PRIDE Award for Inclusivity and Diversity went to the Equality for All Foundation for their commitment to the LGBTQ+ community.
One of the most poignant moments of the evening was the presentation of the Trailblazer and Lifetime Achievement in Gender Equality Award to Linette Vassell. Canada recognised her life’s work of unwavering dedication to the cause of gender equality. In her gracious and emotional acceptance speech, Vassell extended her heartfelt gratitude to Canada for this first-time recognition of her work and that of her esteemed colleagues. She saw these awards as a bold and welcome step towards reenergising the collective movement towards an equitable society.
The awards event concluded with a special presentation of the Canada-Jamaica partnership for gender equality award to the Bureau of Gender Affairs for their shared commitment and strong partnership with the Government of Canada.
Canada's steadfast commitment to advancing gender equality in Jamaica is exemplified through these Gender Equality Awards, which honour the efforts of partners and advocates who share our values of gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. Canada provides support for five regional Caribbean projects, including Women's Voice and Leadership Caribbean and the ParlAmericas project, which assists the Bicameral Caucus of Women Parliamentarians in Jamaica. Notably, the CFLI has contributed 910,000 CAD across 30 impactful projects, with an impressive allocation of 200,000 CAD announced to support eight deserving projects this year.
Over the past five years, Canada has invested approximately 30 million Canadian dollars in a range of gender equality initiatives in Jamaica. These initiatives include the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI), the WE-Talk project focused on reducing gender-based violence, the SAIL-SRHR Project, the Social Justice (So-JUST) Project, the Jamaica Gender Assessment by the World Bank, and the Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CAPRI) study on gender-based violence in news media.