Caribbean media to be recognized for gender equality coverage

KINGSTON, Jamaica – The judges’ reports are in and six Caribbean journalists from Jamaica, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago will be honored during the United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA Caribbean Media Awards at the Hilton Kingston in Jamaica on Tuesday, December 6, 2005.

Organizers have confirmed two winners each in the three categories of print, radio and television for bodies of work published and broadcast between September 16, 2004 and October 20, 2005 under the theme “Gender Equality, Reproductive Health and the Millennium Development Goals.” Cash prizes and hotel stays will be awarded to the winners at the eagerly anticipated awards ceremony which begins at 7pm.

Gender inequality affects societies around the world, says Harold Robinson, the Kingston-based United Nations Population Fund representative for the English- and Dutch-speaking Caribbean, and it will threaten development in these nations, including those in the Caribbean, if not taken seriously.

While congratulating journalists on the quality of submissions received, Robinson proposed that in order for the region to make greater strides for gender equality, young boys and men must be engaged, and men must change long-held gender-based attitudes and behaviors: “They need to be engaged, early on, in the principles and practices of respect for the opposite sex,” the representative remarked.

The same gender norms that oppress and harm women prevent many men from realizing their full capacity to care, nurture and be responsible to their families and communities. “Studies worldwide confirm that fathers contribute far less time to direct childcare than mothers … men must begin to question these negative gender attitudes and recognize how gender inequities harm their partners and themselves,” Robinson said. “Getting to this point requires that opportunities be provided for men to reflect on their own history and experiences (and) their socialization into traditional ideas about household roles and childrearing.”

Societal norms can also encourage men and boys to engage in high-risk behaviors that harm both themselves and others. The HIV/AIDS epidemic sharply highlights men’s critical role. In the absence of a vaccine or cure, changes in male behavior are central to preventing the spread of HIV. The representative emphasized that working with adolescent boys at a formative time in their lives offer the greatest opportunity to instill equitable gender values and encourage the next generation of young adult males to question the norms that have denied the human rights of their sisters, mothers, wives and daughters.

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