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everything; they are really involved

Time:2020-03-12 11:43Underwear site information Click:

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PAST recipients of the United States Embassy Women's History Month grant are bemoaning the lack of support from Government to push their projects.

During a recent round-table discussion at the United States Embassy in Kingston, five recipients openly shared the impact of their work since receiving grants.

The US Embassy's pitch competition, which ran for two years — 2018 and 2019 — has awarded more than US$165,000 in grants to groups that advance the cause of women locally.

But while the past recipients agreed that local organisations have partnered and supported their various ventures, they also lamented the lack of governmental support.

“The response from Government has not come in. The ministries of health, education, and gender are all aware of the work I have done. I have delivered my book [at ministries] personally, which details the work and the findings of research we have done,” said Shelly-Ann Weeks, 2018 grant winner, author, sex educator, advocate, and founder of Her Flow — an organisation committed to taking the shame out of period poverty in Jamaica.

Weeks' project highlighted the grave reality that Jamaican schoolgirls are unable to afford sanitary products, which in turn impacts their attendance in schools. Since being awarded the grant in 2018 she has conducted research in 12 schools, with 1,963 grade seven students.

Her work has revealed that 44 per cent of girls are affected by period poverty and 13 per cent of girls stop from school completely when they have a period. In addition, they have utilised alternative products to sanitary napkins when on their period.

“Some create their own stuff, some of them the guidance counsellors help them — buy the jumbo roll of hand towels and fold it a special way. That's what they give them when they don't have any products. We [also] hear about other alternative methods like discarded towels, old T-shirts, banana leaves, newspaper [and] reusing products, where they have a pad which they think is not as soiled as it can be and they use it again,” she said.

In addition, Weeks' project sought to engage boys in school to have a support system for girls.

“We say to them, if you see a girl and her clothes is messed up, just go over and tell her quietly. We find that, through our intervention, boys are more supportive and are no longer taking away girls products and tearing them up. We teach the girls how to hold the pads, put it on the panties, everything; they are really involved,” she said.

Another 2018 grant awardee — Joy Crawford, executive director of Eve for Life — also had concerns about the lack of support from Government.

She said: “The shelter for abused women has been promised from 2014. The support of Government, like these guys say, on the ground, is good. There is a strong network with CISOCA, the police, the CPFSA [Child Protection and Family Services Agency], all the people we need to respond in the day of the event at the operational level things a gwaan because they want it to go as well. [But] at the policy level we are stuck. We have a serious commitment issue and you don't have to look far. In Jamaica, every time there is domestic violence we talk about the shelter. This year the governor general got involved when Parliament opened and talked about the shelter. Is the Government serious? My response is no. I get a call every week, including from government agencies, trying to find shelter for people in Jamaica.”

Eve for Life's project, in mobilising communities to end sexual abuse and the sexual exploitation of adolescent girls and young women in Jamaica, has been lauded as an investment that will create awareness and education on sexual abuse, whilst working with communities to take actions that are easy and cost-effective.

Lianne McNaughton, also a 2018 awardee, who is founder and managing director of Youth Can Do IT (Information Technology). said people will praise the idea but the real support is not forthcoming.

“That's the hardest thing doing this type of work. They say wow and give you a pat on the back and then go about their business. It takes money to care... It's not about you, it's about the impact you can make in so many people's life. The hardest thing is having people being inspired enough to open up their pockets and not just go 'wow' and take a picture, and go 'that's cool' and go about their way,” she shared.

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