THE United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) has called on Jamaica to strengthen programmes to address poverty and unemployment for rural women who it said are disproportionately affected by poverty, unemployment and gender-based violence.
“Rural women of all ages, including women with disabilities, are doubly disadvantaged, and, in some areas, have limited access to health and social services, skill development and training opportunities, justice and legal aid, and that they also have low rates of participation in decision making,” the committee observed during its 52nd session in New York recently.
The committee said that while it welcomed the efforts of the Jamaican government to reduce rural poverty, more efforts needed to be made to ensure that rural women have improved access to health care, social services and a justice system, “with targeted programmes for women who suffer multiple forms of discrimination owing to old age and disabilities, including through greater access to social safety nets.”
The committee’s observation was made following Jamaica’s presentation to the committee, which was done by Information Minister Sandrea Falconer.
The minister noted that rural women are integral to every aspect of the agricultural sector and the country’s efforts towards enhancing food security, reducing poverty, and achieving the millennium development goals (MDGs).
“The government of Jamaica is committed to empowering rural women by promoting equitable access to credit, increased involvement in income generating activities, access to technology to enhance productivity, and skills training,” Falconer said.
“This is aimed at encouraging greater participation of rural women in the leadership and management of national organisations that promote agriculture and rural development,” she explained.
The information minister said the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, through the Rural Agricultural Development Authority, is to assist with providing a better understanding of the situation with rural women, by upgrading its database to include more sex-disaggregated data. This information will be used, she said, to guide the development of policies and programmes.
CEDAW also expressed concerns that rural women were particularly more vulnerable to the effects of natural disasters and climate change. It recommended that Jamaica, “ensure that the development and implementation of policies and programmes on disaster preparedness, response to natural disasters and the impacts of climate change, as well as other emergencies, are based on a comprehensive gender analysis, and mainstream the concerns of women, particularly those of rural women, in all policies and programmes.”