Fifteen women, who have been certified in entrepreneurship, are to benefit from grant support from the European Union (EU) to undertake business ventures.
They are among 30 women trained under a €200,000 (approximately J$30 million) Jamaica AIDS Support for Life (JASL) project on ‘Reducing Domestic Sexual and Gender-based violence Against Women within the context of HIV and AIDS’.
With the support, the women, including persons with disabilities and the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), will be able to operate grocery shops, hairdressing salons and farms, among other ventures.
Portions of the funds will also be used to provide training to improve the knowledge and skills of in-service police officers to better deal with incidents of VAW and expand the capacity of male leaders to promote women’s rights.
It will also enable increased access to sexual and reproductive health-related services and psychosocial support including improved access for women, who have experienced violence.
Addressing the launch of the 18-month project at The Knutsford Court Hotel in New Kingston on February 6, Head of the Delegation of the EU to Jamaica, Ambassador Malgorzata Wasilewska, said VAW is a major obstacle to the fulfilment of women’s human rights and achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals.
The United Nations Agenda is a plan of action to end poverty and hunger everywhere; to combat inequalities within and among countries; to build peaceful, just and inclusive societies; to protect human rights and promote gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls; and to ensure the lasting protection of the planet and its natural resources.
Ambassador Wasilewska assured that the EU, which is one of Jamaica’s largest donor partners, is “committed to combating all forms of violence against women and girls because it undermines core fundamental rights and values such as dignity, access to justice, access to economic opportunities and gender equality.”
“It is our role to try and help the Government of Jamaica but also civil society groups and organisation to make sure that the levels of violence are reducing and the roles of women increase in Jamaica at home, in the family, at schools and all around us,” she said.
The EU Ambassador said the training in entrepreneurship will represent a “big change” in the lives of the women and will enable them to have a sense of independence.
Meanwhile, Executive Director of JASL, Kandasi Levermore, expressed gratitude to the EU for the support given and noted that her organisation will continue its thrust to assist women, especially those “vulnerable to HIV/AIDS or key populations of women.”
Beneficiary of the project and Peer Link of JASL, Sandrean Bailey, said the support will give her greater economic independence in her relationship.
In attendance at the launch of the project were representatives from UNAIDS, AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Caribbean Vulnerable Communities, Equality for All/J-FLAG and JASL, as well as Opposition Spokesman on Youth and Culture, Damion Crawford.