Saturday, 19 November 2016

Recognizing Masculinities In Support of Gender Equality

“Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be. Be One”- Marcus Aurelius
The discourse surrounding issues of gender and development is often imbalanced resulting in the concerns of men and boys being kicked to the curb. The traditional cultural philosophy of men being self-sufficient and in control of their emotions tend to nurture this disparity in our society, a practice which should be deterred at all cost if we are to effect the change in how men and boys see themselves and value their existence. It is important that as men we are given the space and time necessary to share our concerns, stories and achievements.  It is also critical that as men we help to raise the awareness of issues surrounding men’s rights in addition to engaging women in a meaningful way in order for societies to have harmonious gender relations and sustainable development. It bares thought that men should be afforded the means to challenge their emotional energies other than through sports. On November 19, 2016, the global community will observe International Men’s Day (IMD) in which issues of importance to men will be brought to the fore. The theme this year is “Stop Male Suicide”. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), male life expectancy at birth in 2015 was 69 years and for females it was 74 years. Unfortunately, the suicide rate for men is three times that of women. Suicide in men has been described as a silent epidemic and regrettably is a major contributor to men’s mortality. The issue of male health as a public health concern has been on the back burner for quite some time despite some attempt to change this narrative. The resources needed and the support services required are not readily invested in male health care resulting in many preventable diseases going untreated in men. Among the objectives of International Men’s Day include a focus on men’s and boy’s health, improving gender relations, promoting gender equality and highlighting positive male role models. The construction of masculinity needs some amount of deconstruction to strip away the hegemonic notions of what it is to be a man in order to fit in a modern progressive culture of egalitarianism. Society teaches boys not to cry and or show their emotions. The feeling of pain and discomfort is encouraged and the male success in hiding his emotions becomes a measurement of his masculinity. This ideal of manhood suppress one’s emotional energy and if often a dangerous practice which oftentimes manifest itself in violence or some other destructive behavior.  Society then act surprise when some men lose their cool and act in an irrational manner. We cannot escape problems; it’s a part of the human experience, whether of a social or behavioural nature. Problems are often viewed along gendered lines and as such we must realize that men react differently to crisis than women. The role that gender plays as a risk factor for suicide has been studied extensively. According to Trevor Forbes, MD, Board Certified psychiatrist, “in most cultures men are not socialized to express their inner feelings”. Dr. Forbes added that a man who seeks professional help for mental health issues runs the risk of being branded a sissy. According to Dr. Forbes a man is expected to be a tower of strength and when he fails to live up to those expectations suicide is considered as the only way out. While females, according to some research show a higher rate of nonfatal suicide behavior, males, on the other hand records a higher success rate of completed suicide. Increasingly, we have been witnessing a hard core strand of masculinity which has facilitated a growing trend of male under-achievement at all levels of the education system. This is compounded by the media and pop culture which gives a false view of masculinity and manhood in this techno-industrial age in which many men are unable to ascribe to. Sadly, positive male role model are far and in between in the society resulting in a vacuum in mentoring which is required to bridge the boy to manhood rite of passage. There must be a greater push towards increasing mentoring programmes for our boys.
Flint native David McGhee trades in sports for <b>mentoring</b> to change the ...
Additionally, we need to expand the funding of those programmes which have been a success to so many of our troubled males, especially teenage boys. Through regulatory mentorship boys can be taught how to be men of character and made to understand their social responsibilities not only to themselves but to the wider society. Their self worth and self-acceptance would also be paramount in stemming the suicide rate among males. Government, civil society, religious organizations and the private sector must join forces to fight the stigma associated with mental health. Promoting gender equality must include examining those specific issues affecting and impacting men separate and apart from those of women. There are some programmes which we can implement in Jamaica to assuage the contentious issue of gender relations. The Bureau of Gender Affairs, for example, must move swiftly to re-establish the Male Desk in order to provide practical support for men and boys who are desirous of such services. The Institute of Gender and Development Studies (IGDS) must reassess its mandate and become more responsive to the needs of men and boys. The Institute can achieve this by hosting more seminars, workshops, lectures as well as encourage more research on men’s issues. We need to expand our minds and view development in a broader context. According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), development is a process of enlarging people’s choices, increasing their opportunities for education, healthcare, income and employment. Unless we view development along this holistic approach gender equality will always lag behind. The time to revisit our national gender policy is now. As a society we also need to find ways and means of infusing Gender and Development into the National Standards Curriculum (NSC) to help in the process of ushering a gentler society with regards to power relations as well as to alleviate the mistrust that both sexes have of each other.Finally, in a spirit of gender equality we call on the United Nations to give International Men’s Day the official UN observance which it deserves. This will undoubtedly help to highlight the plight, concerns, and achievements of men in this gendered world in which we live. On this very important day let us celebrate our collective masculinity while at the same time recognizing our differences as men. In the words of George S. Patton, duty is the essence of manhood.

Wayne Campbell is an educator and social commentator with an interest in development policies as they affect culture and or gender issues.
waykam@yahoo.com, @WayneCamo  and Kurt Hickling, is an educator and cultural studies advocate with an interest in the cultural dimensions affecting males. 
kurthickling@gmail.com @jamteach1976

#InternationalMensDay #Jamaica #masculinity #manhood #genderequality #mentalhealth

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

In Pursuit of Good Local Governance

“There’s much more we can be doing in Parliament, we could be giving more power back to people at local government level, through local referendums”. Theresa May
The Jamaican electorate has never taken local government very seriously. However, despite this fact, the country will go to the polls on Monday, November 28 to vote for parish and municipal councils.  Sadly, many of us do not know our local representatives since to a large extent they have not made themselves available to the people. Additionally, it appears that many of our local representatives are unaware of their job functions. Furthermore, many of the parish councils lack accountability and transparency and this has erode the confidence of the electorate. Issues such as unclean drains, the transformation of many residential communities due to commercialization are leading to the erosion of numerous communities as well as to the quality of live we enjoy. There is also the issues of side walk garages and timely collection of garbage. Disturbingly, the Riverton City landfill still needs to be addressed. Our local government officials appear impotent in their attempt to address these issues as well as other critical issues necessary to improve people’s lives. As a result this has led to many questioning the relevance of local government in today’s society. The Jamaican society like all societies has layers of stratification. The society is divided along social classes’ and sadly, we have turned a blind eye to those of influence and wealth who are responsible for transforming the peaceful nature of numerous neighbourhoods into areas of distress. We all seek peace and happiness as human beings. In fact Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs speaks to Self- Transcendence. According to Maslow self-transcendence are life-altering peak experiences, such as love, understanding and happiness which are at the pinnacle of the human experience and of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Undoubtedly, there should be a sense of happiness in one’s home and by extension in one’s community. However, this happiness which we all seek needs the protection of the State by way of legislation and then by enforcement. This is especially true for the economically disadvantaged and most vulnerable in the society. The issue of town planning and development has always been skirted around by successive government since there is a political price to pay in addressing the ad hoc approach to development which have we have embraced over the years. Unfortunately, we have nurtured a culture of political interference in all aspects of our lives which has undermine to a great extent law and order especially in the area of town planning, specifically, with regard to our zoning laws. However, all is not lost and we now need to move towards a culture of engendering a platform of social development in which the people are at the centre of development. Any society which places a high premium on social development will reap the benefits of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s), especially goal number 11 which speaks to making cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. In recent times there has been the proliferation of junk yards all over the Kingston Metropolitan Area (KMA). This practice clearly needs the urgent attention from the authorities, such as, the Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation (KSAC) as well as the local government ministry. There seems to be classism at play surrounding this practice as the operators of such businesses cannot conduct such trade in their high-class communities in which they live. Social development is integral in building safer and inclusive communities. We need to realize that citizens and t in society should be allowed contribute in shaping policy for a better society. We cannot overemphasize that positive spins off for the advancement toward an inclusive society, this implies that individuals treat each other in a fair and just manner whether in the family, workplace or in any other setting where people operate. We need to cultivate a culture of social cohesiveness in which the voices and concerns of the most vulnerable are listened to and are just as important as those who are of influence and affluence. Appallingly, a significant number of our communities are no longer safe due to urban decay, crime and violence as well as myopic planning policies which have served to scare away many middle class families from our shores. The question of whether or not Jamaica still has a middle class is pretty much debatable. There needs to be a sense of urgency in finding ways of engendering opportunities in making our cities and communities safe again. We have seen the negatives of policies which are implemented only to serve a specific sector of the society. The time is right for a paradigm shift to embrace social responsibility and accountability. Such a collective embrace will enables us as a people to look out for each other. We need to rekindle our passion for civic activism in order to facilitate greater citizen participation and involvement in public policies, decisions and discourse. We need to move towards creating a just and fair society where regardless of gender, sexuality, religious affiliation, socioeconomic background, age and or disability. The reform of local government has been an ongoing for many years now; we should be reaping the benefits of this transformation now in order to realize Jamaica’s 2030 vision of making the country the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business. In the words of Ferdinand Mount, “a majority in all parties do, I think, want to see local government recover its old vigor and independence”.   

Image of Governance Concept Hand Take White Ball with Wordcloud


Wayne Campbell is an educator and social commentator with an interest in development policies as they affect culture and or gender issues.
waykam@yahoo.com
@WayneCamo

 

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Creating Safe, Inclusive and Sustainable Living Conditions

“A change is brought about because ordinary people do extraordinary things”- Barack Obama.
Successive governments over the years have failed miserably in many areas of governance, particularly in the aspect of social justice. Social justice is defined by Toowoomba Catholic Education, 2006 as “promoting a just society by challenging injustice and valuing diversity. It exits when all people share a common humanity and therefore have a right to equitable treatment, support for their human rights, and a fair allocation of community resources”.  Injustice comes in various forms and guise which makes it difficult to recognize and address at times.  The unplanned re-structuring of many residential communities due to commercialization is one of many forms of social injustices which require urgent attention. The Jamaican society like all societies has layers of stratification. The society is divided along social classes’ and sadly, we have turned a blind eye to those of influence and wealth who are responsible for transforming the peaceful nature of numerous neighbourhoods into areas of distress. We all seek peace and happiness as human beings. In fact Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs speaks to Self- Transcendence. According to Maslow self-transcendence are life-altering peak experiences, such as love, understanding and happiness which are at the pinnacle of the human experience and of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Undoubtedly, there should be a sense of happiness in one’s home and by extension in one’s community. However, this happiness which we all seek needs the protection of the State by way of legislation and then by enforcement. This is especially true for the economically disadvantaged and most vulnerable in the society. The issue of town planning and development has never been taken seriously in the society as we have allowed the interference of politics to dictate when and where the laws regarding zoning should be applied. However, all is not lost and we now need to move towards a culture of engendering a platform of social development in which the people are at the centre of development. Any society which places a high premium on social development will reap the benefits of the United Nation Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s), especially goal number 11 which speaks to making cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. In recent times there has been the proliferation of junk yards all over the Kingston Metropolitan Area (KMA). This practice clearly needs the urgent attention from the authorities, such as, the Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation (KSAC) as well as the local government ministry. There seems to be classism at play surrounding this practice as the operators of such businesses cannot conduct such trade in their high-class communities in which they live. Social development is integral in building safer and inclusive communities. We need to realize that citizens and the way they interact in society should be allowed contribute in shaping policy for a better society. We cannot overemphasize that positive spins off for the advancement toward an inclusive society, this implies that individuals treat each other in a fair and just manner whether in the family, workplace or in any other setting where people operate. We need to cultivate a culture of social cohesiveness in which the voices and concerns of the most vulnerable are listened to and are just as important as those who are of influence and affluence. Unfortunately, a significant number of our communities are no longer safe due to urban decay, crime and violence as well as ad hoc planning policies which have serve to scare away many middle class families. The question of whether or not Jamaica still has a middle class is pretty much debatable. The need to engender ways of making our cities and communities safe again is now. We have seen the negatives of policies which are implemented to serve a specific section of the society, instead of crafted to uplift the masses. The time is right for a paradigm shift to embrace social responsibility and accountability. Such a collective embrace will enables us as a people to look out for each other. One might ask where the nation’s sense of social responsibility and accountability was when Nicholas Francis a third form student was stabbed to death and thrown off a bus while heading home. However, we should learn from the experiences of the past and put measures in place so as not to repeat such sadness that his untimely death has caused. We need to rekindle our passion for civic activism in order to facilitate greater citizen participation and involvement in public policies, decisions and discourse. Most of us are quite familiar with the Jamaican proverb, “di same knife dat stick goat stick sheep”. We need to move towards creating a just and fair society where regardless of gender, sexuality, religious affiliation, socioeconomic background, age, disability or any other social indicator there is a sense of belonging for all. We are going to require more than just talk in order to achieve social justice for every member of the society. As a society we have sacrificed a lot over the recent past.  The quality of our lives is just as important as life itself. Most of us agree that much more needs to be done to improve the quality of our lives. The time to reclaim our society is now. In the words of Elie Wiesel “we must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented”.   
 waykam@yahoo.com
@WayneCamo