The Gender and Family Affairs Unit of the Ministry of Social Development and Housing hit the ground running in January 2014 , with its Gender Based Violence (GBV) Education Drive in the nation’s Secondary Schools.
Through the education drive themed “Encourage Equality and Respect for Peace in the World; End Gender Based Violence”, the Unit sought to dialogue with fifth form students on issues pertaining to gender-based, domestic and sexual violence and their impacts, in an effort to sensitize, educate and prevent future occurrences in the younger generations.
“This is the beginning of rooting out and ending gender based violence in our society,” Domestic Program Officer, Claudia Mark Benjamin, said while at a session at the New Life Organization (NEWLO), St. Andrew on Tuesday.
She referred to the initiative as a social investment that promises a bountiful harvest.
“It’s like sowing a seed in our future men and women. It’s all in the campaign to educate them about the evil of gender based violence and help them become more aware of it and speak out about it,” Mrs. Mark Benjamin said.
The hour-long session, which focused on the various forms of abuse and their signs as well as where help can be found, also addressed the importance of communication and proper conflict resolution in relationships.
“Some of the students may be in relationships and we want them to be able to recognize what healthy and unhealthy relationships look like, so that they can stay away from the unhealthy ones,” the Program Officer said.
“We want our young people to be able to resolve disagreements and problems in an amicable, kind and non-conflictive way. We do not want to them to become abusers or perpetrators, or to accept relationships that are abusive.”
Mrs. Mark Benjamin says that her Unit is aware that many other factors would have to come into play to see a significant reduction in the number of abusive relationships on the island, however, the Unit sees these sessions as a start which can help and encourage the nation’s young people to have and want healthy relationships.
The Institutions visited thus far were:
- St. Andrew’s Anglican Secondary School
- St. Joseph’s Convent, St. Andrew’s
- Grenville Secondary School
- Westmorland Secondary School
- Westerhall Secondary School
- Presentation Brothers College
- Anglican High School
- Wesley College
- McDonald College
- Beacon High
- Hillsborough Secondary School
- New Life Organization, St. Andrew