Pastor of the Constant Spring Road Church of God Rev Winston George Lewis says men and boys need be retrained to respect and protect women and girls.
“If we are going to have safer spaces for our women and girls, there must be a retraining of our men and boys in a general way. Retrain them how to recognise women, to show respect to them and to do everything to protect them from harm. Don't abuse them,” he said.
Pastor Lewis was speaking at a church service on November 21 at the Constant Spring Road Church of God in St Andrew, to mark International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, observed yesterday.
At was the start of 16 days of activism to create awareness against all forms of violence against women and girls, concluding on International Human Rights Day on December 10. The local theme for this year's observance is 'Safer Spaces for Women and Girls'.
Pastor Lewis said that men must be engaged in the fight to end violence against women and girls and called on men to be advocates for women's liberation.
“Your mission is not to kill and destroy but to give life to others. Create opportunities so that when our little girls, our wives, our sisters and mothers go out they can feel safe,” he urged.
Pastor Lewis also called for the empowerment of women and girls.
“If we are going to see safer spaces for women and girls, we must open up educational opportunities for them. We cannot hold them back to say you are a woman, you are a girl, you can't go up front,” he said, while acknowledging that many women in Jamaica are pursuing higher education and occupying leadership positions.
The pastor also made a call for the inclusion of women and girls throughout the levels of policy decision-making by Government.
“We can't have them to join us to make decisions when it is convenient. They should be part of the process because they are endowed with various skills and abilities. Give them the chance to go forward,” he said.