We must do more!Tuesday, April 20, 2021
WE, the members of the Gender Advisory Committee (GAC) for the period January 2018 to January 2021, whose names appear below, are committed to doing more. We are deeply troubled about the implications of the alleged abusive behaviour of Member of Parliament George Wright. The first context is the “physical altercation” reported to the police by Wright and Tannisha Singh on April 6, 2021. They are allegedly linked to the circulation on social media of a violent battering of a woman by a man. The second context is the rising incidents of family and domestic violence. This incident brings to the fore the perpetuation of violence against women and girls (VAW). It amplifies the absence of effective institutional mechanisms to curb gender-based violence (GBV). We must do more to end this perpetual cycle of violence and abuse.
We have, therefore, requested an urgent meeting with Olivia “Babsy” Grange, minister of culture, gender, entertainment and sport. The meeting is intended for us to do more. We must expedite specific actions that can accelerate the achievement of the goals and objectives of the National Policy for Gender Equality (NPGE). This action is imperative to bring short-term and longer-term protection and relief to women, girls and families affected, as well as to curb the escalation of GBV.
It is expected that the meeting will examine, among other things:
1) Consequences for behaviour inconsistent with the guiding principles of the NPGE: Political leadership and commitment are among the guiding principles of the NPGE required “to raise and address gendered issues that are often hidden within the very structures which support hierarchy and leadership”. The policy explicitly states that: “Political, business, religious and community leaders must model the principles of the NPGE for it to be successful.”
2) Legislative proposals, including but not limited to: a) examining legislation to prosecute domestic abusers without the support or direct involvement of survivors of abuse, through mechanisms such as “evidence-led prosecutions” that exist in jurisdictions such as England and Wales, which can rely on witness accounts or closed-circuit television footage; b) convening a joint select committee to examine the Constitution (Amendment) (Impeachment) Bill (2011); and c) ensuring that constitutional or other legislative provisions are in place to allow for the adoption of temporary special measures (TSMs) as provided under s.31 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).
3) Inadequate actions to achieve some of the objectives of the NPGE: Since the inception of the NPGE, several policy objectives were identified and given time frames for achievement that have been missed. These include signing and ratifying the Optional Protocol to CEDAW and the elimination of gender disparity in wages and labour laws. We must do more to achieve these and other objectives.
4) Parliamentary Committee Action: We urge the Human Resource and Social Development Parliamentary Committee to convene and/or the establishment of Special Select Committee, as a matter of urgency, to examine legislative proposals and the adequacy of the NPGE (including its financing), and to actively engage citizens across Jamaica in finding solutions to GBV. A bipartisan parliamentary committee provides an excellent opportunity for female parliamentarians to use “their platforms to promote greater gender cohesion and partnerships” as called for by Juliet Holness on March 8, 2021.
5) The effectiveness of the GAC in executing its mandate to guide implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the NPGE and the National Strategic Action Plan to Eliminate Violence Against Women (NSAP-GBV) (2017-2027). We are of the view that the GAC requires substantial rethinking and restrategising to more effectively carry out its mandate.
We are committed to doing more to ensure that the goals and objectives of the NPGE can be achieved. We urge every Jamaican to do more to end the scourge of gender-based violence and all forms of violence in Jamaica.
Note: The GAC is a multi-sectoral body established via Cabinet Decision No 1/18 on January 8, 2018 to be operational for three years ending January 7, 2021.
The above piece is submitted by Jayson Downer, president & founder, Men of God Against Violence and Abuse, email@example.com; Novelette Grant, deputy commissioner (ret'd), advocate and trainer, firstname.lastname@example.org; Rosalea Hamilton, CEO, LASCO Chin Foundation, email@example.com; Joyce Hewett, executive director, Woman Inc, firstname.lastname@example.org; Charles Hyatt II, CEO, Good News Jamaica Communications Limited, email@example.com; Patricia Donald Phillips, founding member, WMW Jamaica (formerly Women's Media Watch), firstname.lastname@example.org; Shirley Pryce, president, Jamaica Household Workers Union, chairperson of the Caribbean Domestic Workers, email@example.com; Heather Rickett, senior lecturer, Faculty of Social Sciences, The University of the West Indies, firstname.lastname@example.org; and Linnette S Vassell, community development and gender consultant, email@example.com.
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