WITH data showing that the novel coronavirus pandemic has worsened the problem of gender-based violence (GBV) across the globe, the US Embassy, Kingston has thrown its support behind a local initiative to raise awareness and provide counselling intervention for persons impacted by GBV in Jamaica. The US Embassy, Kingston provided grant funding for a three-part webinar series dubbed 'Inform to Empower: Tackling Gender-based Violence, the Ongoing Pandemic', which began on November 18.
The series is being produced by Stronger Together, a knowledge sharing platform founded by communications specialists Stacy-Ann Smith, CEO of Danrak Productions; and Michelle-Ann Letman, CEO of PR Belle Media. The social impact brand is primarily focused on issues confronting women, girls and families, and is intended to provide a space to share information, resources, and inspiration as well as to stimulate progressive and out-of-the-box thinking.
Speaking to the support of the US Embassy, Kingston, Public Affairs Officer, Bobby Adelson noted that, "The US Embassy is pleased to partner with the Stronger Together webinar series on gender-based violence. Our support reaffirms the United States government's commitment to enable the full potential of all individuals, particularly women and girls who face human rights abuses."
Adelson added, "Promoting gender equality is a longstanding cornerstone of US foreign policy. We continue to seek partnerships that stem violence and promote the social, economic, and political empowerment of women."
Since the pandemic, emerging data indicates that the incidence of violence against women and girls, particularly domestic and intimate partner violence, may be increasing due to the confinement of persons spending more time indoors. Referring to GBV as the shadow pandemic, the United Nations (UN) has reported that all types of violence against women and girls, particularly domestic violence, has intensified globally.
This means an even greater threat for women in a country where, according to a 2018 UN survey, more than one in every four Jamaican women experience intimate partner physical and sexual violence in their lifetime.
“If ever there was a time for action, it is now. Every well thinking Jamaican must use their gifts and abilities to make a meaningful contribution in this fight against violence. And that's what 'Inform to Empower' is about. We are using this platform to raise awareness and hopefully leave an impact that can change lives and take us one step closer to ending GBV in Jamaica,” said Smith.
Beyond the webinars, the initiative will be providing tangible support to persons affected by GBV. “We have partnered with a local counselling service provider, and through the support of the US Embassy, we will be providing free counselling for 25 persons who attend the webinars. We've had the first webinar and already we've seen a few persons indicating an interest in getting the help they need to move their lives forward,” noted Letman.
The first in the webinar series was streamed online, via Zoom, on Thursday, November 18 with the dialogue centered on 'Sexual Harassment and Cultural Norms'. The second webinar, which is set to coincide with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls today, will key in on the issue of 'Intimate Partner Violence and the Pandemic'. The final webinar in the series will be held on December 2 with a focus on 'Men as Victims and Perpetrators of Gender-based violence'.
Registration for the webinar is free and details for participating can be found on the Instagram platforms of the US Embassy, Kingston (@usembassyja), DanRak Productions (@danrakproductions) and PR Belle Media (@prbellemedia).