Caribbean region a global example for gender mainstreaming – Juliet Holness
Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Juliet Holness.

KINGSTON, Jamaica – The Caribbean region has become a “global example” for gender mainstreaming, says Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Juliet Holness.

Addressing the recent 2023 Nevalliance International Women’s Conference at the Hofstra University in New York, United States (US), Holness said the process of assessing the implications for women and men of any planned action, including legislation, policies, and programmes in all areas and at all levels, has been deployed in the region to promote gender equality and address gender-based inequalities.

“This is to integrate a gender perspective into all aspects of policy development and implementation. The Caribbean, therefore, has made good in areas relating to the parameters of the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Beijing Platform for Action,” she said.

Holness noted that the recently introduced Sexual Harassment (Prevention and Protection) Act, 2021, in Jamaica, contains provisions for dealing with sexual harassment in the workplace, schools, correctional institutions, places of safety, nursing homes and more.

She underscored that Jamaica has joined other Caribbean countries that have taken steps to combat the “vexed issue” of sexual harassment, such as Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, the Bahamas and Grenada.

“Several Caribbean countries have also reformed their legal systems to remove discriminatory laws and policies that affect women's rights, such as laws that restrict women's access to property, employment, inheritance and domestic violence. Of course, the work continues but the gains have been many,” she noted.

Holness, who is also Member of Parliament for St Andrew East Rural, argued that domestic violence continues to be a threat to scores of women across the Caribbean, and Jamaica has been implementing a National Strategic Action Plan to Eliminate Gender-based Violence (NSAP-GBV) 2017-2027, and to “properly monitor” the plan the Government has created a National Gender Advisory Council.

The Council, she said, has representation from all sectors of the society, and has delivered the draft National Shelter Strategy that will guide how safe spaces in the country are operationalised and regulated.

She added that shelters and support services for survivors of violence have been established, which include a 24-hour GBV Helpline and a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with key entities for the continued care of survivors of gender-based violence.

The Conference was held under the theme ‘The International Women of Influence’ and was designed to ensure that attendees had an opportunity to network, exchange knowledge, connect, facilitate lasting connections, and showcase a range of products and services, all under one roof, as well as to enhance awareness and create a more informed understanding of the opportunities, issues, and approaches of women empowerment with resultant attention and resources directed towards supporting them.

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