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Olivia Grange | Finding shelter for abused women

Published:Tuesday | June 13, 2017 | 12:00 AM

The following are excerpts from a speech to Parliament by Olivia Grange, minister of culture, gender, entertainment and sport.

I will now deal with a matter that pulls at the heart in a way that cannot easily transcend into words. It is the troubling issue of gender-based violence, inequality and discrimination. This is not a Ministry of Gender matter, it is not a Parliament agenda matter, it is not restricted to certain families or communities, this is a matter that touches all of us.

The new National Strategic Action Plan to eliminate gender-based violence provides for an integrated, multisectoral approach to addressing the key issues and challenges, as it relates to victims, perpetrators, and witnesses of acts of violence.

I am pleased to announce that a Costing and Implementation Plan has been submitted to Cabinet and is before the Human Resource Committee for consideration. Under the plan, we are proposing the establishment of a minimum of three regional emergency centres within the next two to three years for women fleeing violence and unsafe living conditions.

We will also be announcing the members of the Gender Advisory Council to provide direct oversight for the implementation of the National Strategic Action Plan to Eliminate Gender-based Violence and the National Policy for Gender Equality, 2011.


Reaching adolescent mothers


In Jamaica, the rate of adolescent pregnancy has been falling from a high of 129 per 1,000 girls in 1985 to 60 per 1,000 in 2015. The fall has been dramatic, but at 60 per 1,000 Jamaica's adolescent birth rate is still high - higher than the global average.

However, it is instructive to learn from research conducted in 2009 among teenaged girls that almost half (49%) reported having experienced sexual coercion or violence.

It highlights the importance of our national programme to eliminate gender violence at the community level. The success of our anti-violence initiatives will have a positive impact on reducing the adolescent birth rate.

Mr Speaker, the urgency to extend the support to the Women's Centre of Jamaica is critical and necessary. An amount of J$183 million has been approved for the centre for the financial year 2017-2018.

The entity will be able to expand the facilities, courses and support mechanisms which it offers, and has become the lifeline to a thousand adolescent mothers and their babies. We will be taking steps this year to improve the academic component of the programme so that it will be able to qualify as a complete educational institution.

As part of this effort, we are procuring equipment to enhance the delivery of virtual CSEC classes in rural areas. We want to ensure that when adolescent mothers leave our programme and are reintegrated into the formal school system, they would not have missed a step.


Online platform for healing


The Bureau of Gender Affairs has collaborated with UNFPA in the development of an online platform to raise awareness on the issue of gender-based violence. A key feature of the platform is the community section where persons can chat with others who have had similar experiences in a safe, secure, anonymous space. The community chat helps victims and survivors to heal. The platform will be managed by the ministry and UNFPA.