WMW Jamaica has sounded the clarion call. At the launch of its ‘I Am A PowHERhouse’ campaign at the Knutsford Court hotel last week, the organisation issued an appeal for Jamaican society to work towards greater gender equality at all levels. The campaign’s main goal is to increase public awareness about issues facing women and to “harness the power of media for women’s political empowerment”.
Guest speaker Krystal Tomlinson, media personality and Miss Jamaica Festival Queen 2013, shed what she described as “tears of joy” as she took the podium.
“Not many of us consider ourselves to be powerhouses,” she began, “even though we have power in our houses.” She pointed out that women were continually questioning themselves: “Trying to prove something that is a fact.”
“I am happy that we have a female prime minister,” Tomlinson continued. “I don’t want it to be novel anymore.” She said that similar to how Jamaica’s athletic prowess was no longer a new or foreign concept, she was hoping for the day when female leadership in the Caribbean would become an accepted norm.
“Not accepting that we have a gender imbalance robs people of the opportunity to enjoy equality,” she cautioned, making reference to the “feminisation” of poverty, evidenced in the fact that women in Latin America and the Caribbean still earn significantly less than men (40 per cent), despite often being more qualified.
To change this trend, Tomlinson emphasised the importance of mentorship for young females. “It is important for young women to meet someone they can look up to,” she said, because “society trains women out of leadership”.
The campaign, supported by the United Nations Women’s Fund for Gender Equality, will have spokespersons who are powerful and popular persons, such as Professor Rosalea Hamilton, musician Tony Rebel, and media personality Jean Lowrie Chin. It will also include the use of social media to push its message, as well as more traditional media.
“As women’s educational attainment continues to increase, they represent an incredible talent pool and national resource,” noted Hilary Nicholson, WMW Jamaica founding member. “Gender balance in the labour market and national governance is a major engine of growth and competitiveness. It is increasingly evident that utilising the skills and talents of both men and women are beneficial for enterprises and for society in general.”
WMW Jamaica is a non-governmental organisation that specialises in training, advocacy and research. It uses gender aware media analysis and transformative action to cultivate gender equality, justice and violence-free social relations.