Chairperson on the National Advisory Council on Gender, Joan Cuffie (second from right) in discussions with from left Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Family, Youth and Sports, Beverley Weekes, Director of the Bureau of Gender Affairs, John Hollingsworth and Deputy Chairperson on the National Advisory Council on Gender, Ralph Boyce.

Government should have in hand a National Policy on Gender within the next 18 months.

Word of this has come from Chairperson on the National Advisory Council on Gender, Joan Cuffie, who said the Institute for Gender and Development Studies at the University of the West Indies, which she currently heads, had been formulating the guidelines for the policy.

“We are in phase one of this national policy development where we are assessing the different conventions and doing a survey of all the obligations of Government in terms of gender. Hopefully, we will complete that phase in the next few months, and then, phase two will look at data collection, where we will begin to examine different sectors, to assess the impact of gender and implication of gender policies and practices, across a diverse group of areas,” Ms. Cuffie stated.

She made the comments yesterday, while addressing the inaugural meeting of the 10-member Council at the Bureau of Gender Affairs, Clarence House, Belmont Road, St. Michael.

According to her, meetings will take place at the national level between the private sector and government officials.  There will also be consultations at the regional level, looking at some of the policies and methodologies used in developing other national policies.

Ms. Cuffie explained that several activities had already been implemented while other plans had to be devised to look at some of the different items under the Council’s Terms of Reference.

Acting Director of the Bureau, John Hollingsworth, told the Council that they may also wish to consider sexual harassment, non-resident father’s access to children, child maintenance, performance of boys in the educational system, sexual assault and legislation that perpetrates gender discrimination and inequality.

“Active consideration should be given to ways to integrate men in the pursuit of gender equality, specifically as it relates to shared responsibilities in the home, the protection of human rights, the reduction of violence against women, the promotion of healthy lifestyles and the elimination of gender-based discrimination,” Mr. Hollingsworth said.

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