Guest Post by Sashana Sanderson, 2nd Year Journalism Student at Caribbean Institute of Media & Communications (CARIMAC), located on the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus.
When one thinks of the term the Next GENDERation several things may come to mind, for some it’s the empowerment of men and women or a focus on young people in terms of their gender, for others it’s about emphasizing the teachings of Marcus Garvey seeking true equality for both men and women.
In all of these perspectives, there is some commonality, for Dwayne Gutzmer, President of the CARICOM Youth Program, the Next GENDERation is about catching the next crop of innovative and creative young people out of violence. But what does the Next GENDERation Initiative mean to you?
The Next GENDERation Initiative is a partnership agreement between the Government of Jamaica, local agencies and the World Bank. It aims to raise awareness and promote discussion among youth, local organizations and the government on youth violence using specifically a gender perspective. Youth violence and violence generally is seen as a development problem in Jamaica. The idea is that to solve this developmental problem, youth violence can be better understood if analyzed focusing primarily on gender.
Traditionally, when people hear the term gender voiced in society, they immediately think about women’s issues or female empowerment but really, the term involves a lot more. Essentially it’s described as the social construction of men and women. In other words it’s how society perceives the role of a man as opposed to a woman.
The World Development Report (2012) identifies education and awareness campaigns targeting the youth population as a good way to rid the cultural norms and behaviours which contribute to violence. As a result, one of the goals of the Next GENDERation Initiative is to develop appropriate and creative messages in an innovative way against violence. These messages will be done primarily by young men and women to be used by the government in national communication campaigns.
The Next GENDERation Initiative also seeks to incorporate elements of society which affect gender such as cultural norms and societal behaviours. Some of the areas focused on in the initiative include; Domestic Violence, Sexual Violence, Gang Violence and Bullying, each portraying societal norms, and their effect of gender.
The first day of the launch of the initiative was Monday in Montego Bay at the Gloustershire Hotel, several youth organizations, government agencies as well as youth from several community organizations were in attendance.
So far the discussions have been lively and engaging, involving role plays and interactive sessions, much to the benefit of the participants who openly appreciated the knowledge gained from the presentations at the launch. Some of the issues that came out of the discussions were the role of the technology, the role of the media, constraints on gender equality, access to information and the influence of the home.
Keen attention was paid at the relationship between violence and social norms, as the two are closely related in the Jamaican context. Along with the issues there were also a number of potential messages against youth violence as well as ideas on how to further the cause of the Next GENDERation Initiative. Terisa Thompson, President of the JSI and avid youth advocate, explained that in terms of the role of the home in influencing change, parents need to know their children, and know exactly how and what to teach their children. She shared ideas on how to further the cause of the initiative by exploring all avenues of technology, and using popular social websites for easy sharing of information.
The Next GENDERation Initiative is will host the second day of its launch in Kingston on Wednesday. It is the first of three phases and its administrators anticipate great and wonderful things on the second day and thereafter.