Friday, 7 November 2014

Gender Issues in Jamaica Requires Attention

The 2014 Global Gender Gap Index Report by the World Economic Forum has been published and Jamaica has dropped 5 places with a global ranking of 52 out of 142 countries. In 2013 Jamaica was ranked at 47. This is very much disturbing and speaks to the lack of attention the society pays to gender based issues. The Global Gender Gap Index Report examines countries around the globe regarding gender equality. Gender equality is the measurable equal representation of women and men. Gender equality does not mean that both sexes are the same; however, gender equality  speaks to having equal value, opportunities and treatment for both men and women. The Global Gender Index Report measures the relative gaps between men and women across four key indicators: health, education, economy and politics. The United Nations and rightly so regards gender equality as a human right.
A number of Caribbean islands have fared much better than Jamaica in the latest Global Gender Report regarding the gender equality in their society. Cuba is the top ranked island with a global ranking of 30. Barbados has a ranking of 33. The Bahamas has a ranking of 35 and Trinidad and Tobago has a global ranking of 49.  Not surprisingly the top five ranked countries are occupied by Nordic countries. These countries continue to make a concerted effort to include and integrate women in all spheres of their society therefore it should not come as a surprise to see them occupying the top positions. Iceland is ranked as number 1. Finland is number 2, Norway is 3, Sweden is 4 and Denmark has a global ranking of 5. The United States of America has a global ranking of 20 while China comes in at 87. Yemen has the lowest ranking of 142. Pakistan has a global ranking of 141.
Two recent incidents in Jamaica have reinforced the fact that much more work is required for us to attain gender equality. The Jamaican society needs to be sensitize and engage all stakeholders in programmes and policies geared at improving gender relations and gender equality.
The first incident was the pronouncement by the National Family Planning Board that there has been an increase in women raping men. This issue is not entirely new since older women having been forcing themselves on teenage boys for a long time. Additionally, the growing cougar phenomenon has added fuel to the older men/younger man discourse. The second incident was the flexi-rape comment by a senior government senator in Parliament.
The issue of rape is not a joke; in fact rape is categorized by the United Nations as a weapon of war.
Wayne Campbell