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Women's group cries foul over JLP campaign statements

Published:Thursday | December 22, 2011 | 12:00 AM

Nadisha Hunter, Staff Reporter

In the wake of recent statements made by members of the governing Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), which zeroed in on the party's love for women, a coalition of women is demanding a clear shift in attitude and campaigning leading up to the general election.

Recently, West Portland JLP candidate Daryl Vaz said during a mass rally in Junction, St Elizabeth, that the JLP is fielding "13 'boonoonoonus' pretty woman" in the election".

Prime Minister Andrew Holness and JLP Deputy Leader Dr Christopher Tufton also weighed in on the love for women at the rally.

The 51% Coalition said the JLP platform statements demean and undermine Jamaican women.

This is the second time since the start of the week that concerns have been raised about the statements.

The People's National Party Women's Movement had condemned the comments, saying the JLP candidates' statements were belittling of the contribution that women could and have made to the political process in Jamaica.

The release by the groups was yesterday sent by Marcia Forbes, one-time political aide of former JLP leader and Prime Minister Bruce Golding.

Demeaning

"The statement coming from the JLP platform suggests that women candidates are not celebrated for their intelligence but only valued for looks, valued primarily as objects of men's love, without a focus on their multiple competencies," the statement read.

"This includes our strong management and leadership skills, capacity and commitment to our families."

The 51% Coalition, which references the percentage of persons in the population whose gender is female, suggested that women have been selected by the JLP as a result of beauty and body only, and a strategy to pull the female vote to the party.

"This we find to be demeaning to female candidates, and to all Jamaican women. We insist that women participating in the political process are not to be seen as competitors in a contest about beauty and sexuality, but as persons seeking to be involved in serious nation building," the statement read.

"We want to see respect for women and men of integrity who put themselves forward. We want to see practical proposals that will result in the early implementation of the National Policy on Gender Equality," the group said.

"We want to have commitment to implement-ation of quotas that will see all public-sector boards, and the Senate having as members, no less than 40 per cent and no more than 60 per cent of either sex," it further stated.

Among the persons who signed the release are the Association of Women's Organisations in Jamaica, Institute for Gender and Development Studies - Mona Unit, Women's Resource and Outreach Centre and Women's Media Watch Jamaica.

nadisha.hunter@gleanerjm.com