51% Coalition welcomes positive news for women’s development

We, the 51% Coalition,wholeheartedly welcome the Ministry of Education’s new policy which permits girls who leave school for reasons of pregnancy to return to class after the birth of their child.

The 51% Coalition -Women in Partnership for Development and Empowerment through Equity –recognizes that Jamaican citizens are fully aware of the right to education of every child, girl and boy. In amending outdated discriminatory regulations, the new policy is an important step in removing a form of gender discrimination which could deny a girl’s right to equal access to education.

We commend Opposition Senator Kamina Johnson Smith for her consistent advocacy on this matter, and congratulate the Ministry of Education for responding positively toSenator Johnson Smith’s parliamentary motion. The Ministry proposes that school places assigned to pregnant adolescents must now be retained during their absence,for them to take up after the birth of their baby.

Research has shown that investing in a young woman’s education is absolutely critical to ensuring the positive development of both mother and child.  Follow up studies at the Women’s Centre, where pregnant girls receive comprehensive educational and counseling support, show that most girls are able to avoid another unwanted pregnancy during their teen years, and many become effective peer counsellors. We therefore sincerely hope that the “Re-integration Program” newly established in the Ministry of Education’s Guidance and Counseling Unit will be properly resourced so that it can provide the necessary sensitive support to the student-mother and her family.

The second item of good news that the 51% Coalition applauds is the recent appointment of Ms. Sophia Frazer-Binns to the Senate. This brings to 5 (of 21) the number of women in the Senate (23.8%).

We welcome this progress, as we inchforward towards gender balance in the high-level arenas of decision-making.  Ms. Frazer-Binns is one of the many very well qualified women in Jamaica whose expertise can enhance the process of policy making.

In fact, the 51% Coalition has proposed a ‘gender landscape’ in high-level decision making that would see Public or Private sector Boards comprising no more than 60%, and no less than40%, of either sex. This move towards gender balance can be achieved partly through the use of gender quotas.

In a population of 51% females and 49% males, it is a matter of equity, justice and human rights that both genders should be fairly represented in the areas where decisions are made about policies that affect the daily lives ofwomen and men right across the society.

For further information, please contact the 51 % Coalition Media Team:

 Ms. Hilary Nicholson, Tel: 467-9906

Ms. Anna-Kaye Rowe, Tel: 929-8873, 487-8268

Dr. Marcia Forbes, Tel: 361-1643

Email: 51percentcoalitionjm@gmail.com

Members of the Women's 51% Coalition discuss gender balance on public sector boards at a 2012 seminar. (My photo)
Members of the Women’s 51% Coalition discuss gender balance on public sector boards at a 2012 seminar. (My photo)

https://petchary.wordpress.com/2013/02/28/this-is-how-change-happens/ “This is how change happens” (petchary.wordpress.com)

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