UN Women, UWI Leads address gender issues #SheRocksJA
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.
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.
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.