Sun | Aug 20, 2017

Coalition affirms women's rights

Published:Friday | April 15, 2016 | 4:09 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir: 

This is an open letter to Olivia Grange, minister of culture, gender, entertainment and sport.

The 51% Coalition: Women in Partnership for Development and Empowerment has noted your recent comments on International Women's Day regarding your administration's intention to implement temporary special measures to strengthen equality between men and women. We welcome this announcement, and look forward to receiving more details.

The Coalition would like to express its support for your ministry's expressed commitment to address the under-representation of women in local government and in other leadership positions, including other branches of governance. Despite the slight increase in the number of women who have been elected to Parliament (17 per cent), the number of women selected for the Upper House has fallen short of the desired minimum of 30 per cent. There is clearly a continuing need for greater equity in political representation.

The 51% Coalition seeks to promote gender equality on boards and in decision-making as a means of ensuring that Jamaica has the best chance at national development. The Coalition is working to secure quotas to advance women's participation in decision-making, and more broadly, to press for the effective implementation of the National Policy on Gender Equality (NPGE) and the achievement of Vision 2030.

As your administration appoints new boards, the Coalition expresses the hope that it will bear in mind the need for much greater gender balance. Among those boards recently appointed, we note with concern that five are 100 per cent male.

We would also like to draw your attention to the sexual harassment bill, which was tabled in Parliament on December 8, 2015. We trust that a way will be found to address this bill as soon as possible, bearing in mind the already considerable delays.

We have also noted Cabinet's approval of the name change of the Bureau of Women's Affairs to the Bureau of Gender Affairs. We look forward to a deeper understanding of the reasons leading to this decision. Alongside this measure, we take note of the pending reinstatement of the Male Desk at the bureau with interest.

NIKEISHA SEWELL LEWIS

Secretariat Coordinator