Nadisha Hunter, Staff Reporter
Gender experts want increased national effort to assist larger than-expected male population
With males outnumbering the female population in most parishes across the island, gender experts are calling for various programmes to be put in place that are geared towards helping them be more productive in society.
The figures, which show more men living in 11 parishes, some of which are traditionally dominated by women, are outlined in the Population and Housing Census for 2011. The document developed through questionaire responses from 82 per cent of the population was released to the public on Wednesday.
Later on Wednesday, director of censuses, demographics and social statistics at Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN), Dr Valerie Nam, said the figures stood out to her, especially those related to Kingston, which is traditionally dominated by women.
Nam was speaking during a Gleaner Editors' Forum at the newspaper's North Street, central Kingston, offices.
She said the fact that 55 per cent of migrants in the island are females could have contributed to the increase in male dominated areas.
Of the overall population of 2.69 million persons living in Jamaica in 2011, 49.5 per cent are males compared with 49.2 per cent of 2.6 million persons in 2001.
However, only St Andrew, St James and St Catherine have more females living in the parishes than the number of males.
Nam said for the figures published, STATIN contacted and/or identified 95 per cent of the population.
According to gender specialist Dr Glenda Simms, there could be serious implications if focus is not placed on getting males to be more productive in society.
She said the figures could be as a result of females gravitating more to the parishes where they can survive economically.
"St James, for example, is a tourism area so they hire more young women to work in the hotels so that is why the women are in those parishes because they are seeking employment," she reasoned.
She said it was important for the country to focus on providing jobs and the necessary educational programmes for the male population so that it can be reflected in the overall achievements in the island.
"We have to look at what they have to offer to development. If they are unemployed, they have nothing to do, they have low educational background, they are going to continue the rape and the rampage in places. Therefore it is our duty to ensure that they are not wasting time. They should be productive," she argued.
Simms added: "The only way they can be more productive is if we take seriously the shortfalls in our education system. Then maybe we should put more military training in those parishes such as cadets as our young men need more structured and disciplined environments. So maybe we should start some unique programmes in those parishes to engage them."
Focus on impoving standards
Executive director at Women's Resource and Outreach Centre Ltd, Dorothy Whyte, said with males dominating, most of the parishes' focus needs to be placed on improving their standards.
She said the data published was critical for policy decisions.
"It means that we really have to focus to get our men to be more productive in society because if in these parishes the figures increased over the 11 years, then we have to do more to get our men totally integrated in society," she said.
"We have to have programmes that will keep our young men in schools straight through to high school because they tend to drop out because somehow the programmes don't grab their attention. Then there is the awful problem of the lack of jobs but we have to steer people to think that they don't just look for a job, but they look to create some type of income-earning activity."