JOA joins UNESCO cause for gender equality

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JOA joins UNESCO cause for gender equality

Sunday, October 20, 2019

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — The Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) is partnering to gain increased leverage for women in society and the Caribbean at large and to address social issues in communities.

The JOA said that the move, made official with the recent signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the entities, is part of the United Nations' 2030 Agenda.

And, the JOA said that it also fortifies efforts for female empowerment now taking place in the country by the JOA's Women in Sport Commission, which was established earlier this year during Olympic Week, at the end of June.

JOA General Secretary, Ryan Foster, listed gender focus as a prime target of the MoU.

“The areas of focus under the MoU include a campaign for social inclusion and gender equality which the JOA is very big on, with our newly-formed Women's Commission,” Foster said.

He noted that other focal points include greater focus on youth within society and engagement in research regarding sport as an agent for social change and an application of these findings both at the local and regional level. And, given their dispensation, Foster said he foresees improved opportunities.

“The JOA represents the interests of the Olympic Movement locally and UNESCO is the main agency of the United Nations with responsibility for sport. Both entities, through their leadership feel that together there are numerous interventions that can be engaged in for the benefit of individuals both locally and internationally,” he said.

Meanwhile, Gisselle Burbano, Programme Specialist in the UNESCO Cluster Office for the Caribbean said, “we are working towards achieving gender equality through sports by means of not only empowering girls throughout the different sporting disciplines, but also by sensitising men and boys about the roles they play for gender equality.”

Pointing out that gender equality is not only for women, Burbano said it is very important to embed within the sports industry where unfortunately, in some areas there is victimisation of the male condition.

“So this is one of the lines of work we will be developing together with the Jamaica Olympic Association, which I must say is one of the few Olympic associations and committees that has the sensitivity to use their potential and capacity to really strive towards not only being one of the top associations worldwide – because we also know of the achievements of Jamaica in terms of Olympic presence – but also, to capitalise on that, to be able to permeate throughout the layers of society, not only in Jamaica, but also in other geographical spectrums,” Burbano said.

She added that this respect, including that earned among regional territories, makes the deal more impactful.

“Jamaica is very much looked up to. Other countries in the Caribbean are very eager to learn from what is happening in Jamaica in terms of sports, in terms of social action through sports and therefore, for UNESCO this partnership is key because this will enable UNESCO to facilitate the JOA, when working on sports for development,” Burbano said.

She noted UNESCO's efforts at assisting the Reggae Girlz and Female Crocs, Jamaica's senior national women's football and rugby teams, saying gender inequality calls for widespread participation.

“All disciplines must play a more coherent role when it comes to trying to use sports as an enabler for development. Otherwise we will still be in an anatomised world when it comes to the sports industry and we will be having more and more trouble in trying to achieve our objectives. I'm very happy that we finally are announcing this partnership that I think should and will be long lasting. It will be the first of many,” she said.

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