JDF focuses on recruiting more women
Although the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) has steadily increased its ratio of women in the army from 10 per cent to 20 per cent, chief of defence staff, Lieutenant General Rocky Meade has said the ultimate aim of the army is to create a force in which there will be no reference to quota.
“My long-term goal is to set standards, and whoever meets the standard would come in without reference to gender or anything else, the same way we don’t refer to colour and we only refer to height because there are some practicalities with holding the rifle,” he said.
Meade said the JDF, in the past, recruited women in an ad hoc manner, but the focus was now on the competence of the individual.
“We are going for a competence-based force, so irrespective of any personal attributes, if you are competent, you should have an opportunity to serve,” he said
He noted, however, that some women might not be attracted to the force given the nature of job.
“I don’t know if the number of women I am attracting now is because that is the job that is available, so I think it will settle down itself one day,” he said.
“Remember, some of the things we do are really very tough, really very physically demanding and you may find that not everyone is attracted to that very physically demanding type of job, and especially when Jamaica becomes more economically prosperous and other job options are available,” he added.
But gender advocate Hilary Nicholson finds that there are many women who do not have an issue with “rough and tough”.
“Yes, it is tough work, but there are many women who are perfectly willing to get involved in hard work and tough work. The fact that we are seeing, increasingly, women on construction sites, increasingly we are seeing women driving heavy-duty machinery, that is because they are capable and interested in doing so,” she said.
Nicholson said it was commendable that the JDF had placed more focus on the recruitment of women, noting that such a move was in the best interest of the country.
“The JDF is one of the organisations that is in charge of security for Jamaica, and that is not something that is just the purview of men. There is much that women can bring to the table,” she said.