Statement of the 51% Coalition: Defending Our Right to Enjoy the Benefits of Good Governance

Following recent events related to the National Housing Trust, the 51% Coalition (Women in Partnership for Development and Empowerment) issued this press release today.

The Coalition is an alliance of women, women’s organizations and partners which formalizes collaboration that has been taking place over a number of years among such bodies. The 51% Coalition seeks to promote gender equality on boards and in decision-making as a means of ensuring that Jamaica has her best chance at national development. The Coalition is working to secure quotas to advance women’s participation in decision-making and more broadly to press for the effective implementation of the National Policy on Gender Equality and the achievement of Vision 2030. Its scope of work also extends to a range of development challenges and issues that affect women, men, families and communities, while seeking to address disparities in various spaces and sectors. The issues affecting women are not viewed in isolation, we believe in active engagement, partnership and consultation with relevant stakeholders and interest groups. The Coalition remains committed to identifying the gaps, proposing workable solutions and ensuring that decisions made are in the best interest of all citizens – men, women, children and the most vulnerable. 


The NHT is close to the hearts and imagination of  all Jamaicans, particularly those, who as contributors, in good faith, expect that they will be able to access resources being held “in trust” to purchase their own homes.  Therefore, the Women’s Sector strongly supports those members of civil society who have noted that the government has lost its focus on how to properly manage one of Jamaica’s most precious assets, the National Housing Trust, on behalf of all Jamaicans.

We are deeply concerned about the way in which the NHT Board, which is a public sector board, has been managed under the leadership of the current chairman, Easton Douglas.  His performance which is characterized by arrogance, lack of transparency and accountability for public funds suggests that decisions were not sufficiently guided by the Public Bodies Management and Accountability Act. We have little confidence that the current Board, albeit with some new members, will function any differently under Mr. Douglas’ leadership.

The replacement of members of the Board who resigned was not the response we expected from Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller, who has on several occasions, expressed a firm commitment to the principles of good governance. As women, we are willing to work through the difficulties and challenges which have the potential to destabilize the Partnership for Jamaica, which we acknowledge as the “space” in which representatives of  various civil society organizations now legitimately sit at the table with the Government of Jamaica.

The Partnership for Jamaica is supposed to be built on trust and transparency. However, the Governance Committee of this Partnership has not addressed several critical issues put on the table by civil society groups, including repeated breaches in governance that have occurred in recent times. The trustworthiness of the Government as a main partner is now in question. We, the Women’s Sector, are clear about our right to sit at the table. However, we have decided to suspend our attendance at meetings of the Partnership in order to clearly indicate that we are determined to hold government accountable to the principles of good governance. Our sector needs to see concrete actions which demonstrate government’s own commitment to and belief in good governance, before we can, in good faith, re-occupy our rightful place at the table.

We are calling on the government to immediately:

  •  Remove Easton Douglas as Chairman of the NHT
  •  Ensure adherence of the current Board to the provisions of Public Bodies Management and Accountability Act, and to provide timely and full reports on the operations of the NHT to the people of Jamaica, via reports to the Parliament.
  • Ensure that the Governance Committee of the Partnership investigates all reports of breaches made, and provides a schedule for engaging all partners in meaningful discussions about the findings of such investigations and what actions will be taken to correct such breaches.

Good governance cannot be left to governments alone. We must resist, resist publicly, resist in our communities, all attempts to deny Jamaicans the good governance we deserve.

Contact the 51% Coalition at:

47 Beechwood Avenue
Kingston 5, Jamaica
Telephone: (876) 929-8873; (876) 960-9067
Like us on Facebook:
Follow us on Twitter: @51Coalition

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