The UWI launches policy to promote Gender Justice in the Caribbean

The University of the West Indies (The UWI) has developed a Gender Policy to formalise its commitment to gender justice and establish a framework for its implementation. The UWI Gender Policy was launched on Tuesday, May 22, 2018 at a formal ceremony at the University’s Regional Headquarters in Jamaica and followed by a public forum on Gender Justice streamed live on UWItv.

The launch of this policy—led by the University’s Institute for Gender and Development Studies (IGDS)—is intended to act as the framework to inform changes necessary at the various levels of the regional University towards the promotion of gender justice and addresses issues of equity, sensitivity and resource allocation. It is also a blueprint to incorporate the issues of gender and development and to express the fundamental principles that are deemed vital to sustainable growth and development throughout the Caribbean.

The UWI has historically concerned itself with issues of gender justice. From inception, its founders were careful to recommend that in its establishment, the University College of the West Indies (the predecessor of The UWI) should be open to women on precisely the same terms and conditions as are applicable to men; similarly, no restriction should be imposed on grounds of race or creed.

More recently, The UWI’s commitment to gender mainstreaming in its operations is reiterated in the University’s Triple A Strategy (2017-2022 Strategic Plan), where it has pressed further to include gender justice among its core values—in tandem with Integrity, Excellence, Diversity and Student Centeredness. Launching an official policy further bolsters its commitment to enforcing the tenets of gender justice throughout the University. The launch coincides with activities carded for the 70th anniversary year, when The UWI has articulated a focus—as an activist university—on advancing the social justice conversation. It sets precedence in doing so, providing a model as a university of best practice.

The draft Gender Policy was completed by former Director of The UWI IGDS Regional Coordinating Office, Professor Verene A. Shepherd and a working group spearheaded by her. Current University Director at The UWI IGDS, Pofessor Opal Adisa will lead its implementation along with a Gender Mainstreaming Committee responsible for championing gender justice across The UWI, and leading the activities intended to positively shape attitudes towards gender justice.

Commenting on the launch of the Gender Policy Professor Adisa said, “Taking this bold stance to formally accept and implement the gender policy is tangible evidence of The UWI’s far-reaching commitment to social and gender justice as the fabric of its development. By so doing, The UWI is demonstrating its abiding commitment to create a society that works for all by implementing a paradigm shift that is inclusive and places justice is its modus operandi.”

Vice-Chancellor of The UWI and Gender Champion within the University, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, expressed, “Fine universities are always keen to actively promote the best interest of all members. The UWI is a fine university. It provides leadership in the promotion of fairness for all. While much has been done to create a culture of gender justice much more can be done. I am very proud of the work done by former Director of the IGDS, Professor Verene Shepherd, and her Task Force in developing this policy for formal approval. Equally, I celebrate her successor Professor Opal Adisa, and her team, who have done the necessary to launch it as a seminal event in the 70th anniversary calendar of our University.”

Photo Caption: Following the launch of The University of the West Indies (The UWI) Gender Policy at The UWI Regional Headquarters, Mona, Jamaica, from left to right: Ambassador Richard Bernal, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Global Affairs, The UWI; Prof. Dale Webber, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Graduate Studies & Research, The UWI; Dr Camille Bell-Hutchinson, Registrar, The UWI, Mona; Prof. Opal Adisa, University Director, The UWI Institute For Gender and Development Studies (IGDS), Regional Coordinating Office; Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, LLD (Hon) former Prime Minister of Jamaica and Honorary Graduate of The UWI; Hon Alando Terrelonge, State Minister in the Ministry of Culture, Gender Affairs, Entertainment and Sport; Prof. Eudine Barriteau, GCM, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Principal The UWI, Cave Hill and Prof. of Gender and Public Policy; Prof. Elsa Leo Rhynie, former Principal, The UWI, Mona; Prof. Barbara Bailey, former Regional Coordinator, IGDS; Prof. Sir Hilary Beckles, Vice-Chancellor of The UWI and Dr. Leith Dunn, Senior Lecturer/Head, The UWI Institute for Gender and Development Studies, Mona Campus.