UN Women, UWI Leads ad­dress gen­der is­sues #SheRock­sJA

Jamaica Gleaner - - FLAIR FEATURE - Jody-Anne Lawrence Life­style Re­porter Fol­low @WeChangeJA on Twit­ter and search the hash­tag #SheRock­sJA for more in­for­ma­tion.

WECHANGEJA, UWI leads and the United Na­tions ex­plored the is­sues plagu­ing gen­der equal­ity with their Women’s Em­pow­er­ment Through Lead­er­ship from Par­lia­ment to the Academy fo­rum, held at the Univer­sity of the West Indies, Mona Vis­i­tors’ Lodge, last Tues­day.

Chereese LaVonne opened the fo­rum with a poem called ‘Speak – a piece she de­vel­oped fo­cus­ing on the is­sue of women’s rights. This was fol­lowed by the wel­come by di­rec­tor of Stu­dent Ser­vices and De­vel­op­ment at the Univer­sity of the West Indies, Ja­son McKen­zie.

Nadeen Spence, pres­i­dent of UWI Leads and Stu­dent Ser­vices and De­vel­op­ment Man­ager, Mary Sea­cole Hall, took to the podium to out­line the di­a­logue that was to take place. There were sev­eral alarm­ing points that came from her pre­sen­ta­tion, one of which was that while Ja­maica boasts the high­est per cent of fe­male man­agers, we are still be­hind the thresh­old when it comes to gen­der equal­ity. Women not only make up the ma­jor­ity of the ru­ral poor, but they also own only two per cent of land in Ja­maica.

Spence fur­ther high­lighted that in the 63-year his­tory of the guild of stu­dents at the univer­sity, only seven women have ever been elected. And while there are women in mid­dle-man­age­ment po­si­tions, the top lead­er­ship po­si­tions are still a male-dom­i­nated arena. She noted that when we speak of gen­der equal­ity we do not want more women and fewer men, thus women out­num­ber­ing men three to one at the Univer­sity of the West Indies is some­thing that needs to be im­proved upon.

OPEN FLOOR

Af­ter out­lin­ing the is­sues, it was then time for United Na­tions Un­der-Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral and Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor of UN Women Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka to be in­ter­viewed by Di­rec­tor of the In­sti­tute for Gen­der De­vel­op­ment Pro­fes­sor Verene Shep­herd, af­ter which the floor was opened to the stu­dents and spe­cially in­vited guests.

Mlambo-Ngcuka noted that, un­for­tu­nately, even the United Na­tions needs to make some changes when it comes to fe­male lead­ers. Women hold­ing high­rank­ing po­si­tions which will cause them to re­lo­cate also be­comes an is­sue based on fam­ily struc­ture, as most times it is eas­ier for women to travel with their hus­bands than for the hus­bands to travel with their wives.

The so­cial­i­sa­tion of men be­ing the bread­win­ner is also some­thing that poses a prob­lem, and so their has to be a change of mind­set be­fore there can be a change of ac­tion.

By the end of the hour-and-ahalf ses­sion, par­tic­i­pants, es­pe­cially the stu­dents, left with a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of the is­sues fac­ing women and gen­der equal­ity and the work that needs to be done in or­der to change it.

PHO­TOS BY DARIEN ROBERT­SON/FREE­LANCE PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

United Na­tions Un­der-Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral and Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor of UN Women Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka (left) shares a laugh with Di­rec­tor of the Univer­sity of West Indies In­sti­tute for Gen­der and De­vel­op­ment Stud­ies Pro­fes­sor Verene Shep­herd dur­ing the dis­cus­sion.

Ali­son An­der­son McLean (left) from the Min­istry of Cul­ture, Gen­der, En­ter­tain­ment and Sports, and leader of the Pub­lic Pol­icy Think Tank, Imani Dun­can-Price, are fully en­gaged in the Women’s Em­pow­er­ment Through Lead­er­ship, From Par­lia­ment to the Academy dis­cus­sion held at the Univer­sity of the West Indies last Tues­day.

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