EU-UN Spotlight Initiative hosts the Men and Boys Forum to address Gender-based Violence


Picture of Tonni Brodber, UN Women Representative speaking to students, Spotlight beneficiary, and Nashan Miller (Bureau of Gender Affairs) and Richard Rowe (YARD)

L-R: Tonni Brodber, Representative, UN Women Multi-Country Office- Caribbean; Student from Kingston College; Beneficiary of Spotlight Small Grantee, Youth for Development Network; Nashan Miller, Acting Director, Male Empowerment Unit, Bureau of Gender Affairs; Richard Rowe, Youth for Arts and Recreational Development (YARD) Empire. UN Women Photo/Dorian Clarke


KINGSTON, JAMAICA: Promoting healthy masculinity and encouraging men and boy's participation are key to designing interventions and policies to address violence against women and girls In the Jamaican society.This was the message at the Men and Boys Forum on Addressing Gender-Based Violence that was hosted by UN Women Multi-Country Office - Caribbean and the Men's Unit in the Bureau of Gender Affairs in the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sports, under the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative on December 14, 2023.

This forum brought together men and boys, government agencies and civil society advocates and organisations to participate in a forum aimed at strategizing better practices for the engagement of men and boys in efforts to end violence against women and girls in Jamaica and the wider Caribbean. The forum recognized the Importance of facilitating dialogue with a range of men, including those who have been perpetrators of violence. The participants engaged in conversations to challenge unhealthy and harmful stereotypes, discuss the root causes of violence against women and girls and gender-based violence (GBV) more broadly, and promote respect, and healthy behaviours.

According to recent statistics captured in the Jamaica Women's Health Survey 2016, 28% of women in Jamaica have suffered intimate partner violence (IPV) during their lifetime, and 23% have suffered sexual violence from a non-partner. This is largely perpetuated by men and boys.

During a fireside chat on the topic: The Importance of Men and Boys Engagement in Ending Violence Against Women and Girls, UN Women Multi-Country Office – Caribbean Representative, Tonni Brodber said: “Healthy masculinity is about being a full human being. Healthy masculinity allows men to demonstrate to other persons when something has hurt their feelings. As a man, you decide what your masculinity looks like, not your relationships with anyone but it cannot be that it is defined by ‘Power over someone’.”


(L-R): Owen ‘Blakka’ Ellis; Tonni Brodber, Representative, UN Women Multi-Country Office- Caribbean; Carla Moore, Consultant, UN Women Multi-Country Office – Caribbean. UN Women Photo/Dorian Clarke


Writer, actor and educator, Owen ‘Blakka’ Ellis also weighed in, and described healthy masculinity as being “Strong enough to be weak and vulnerable. To laugh and cry and it is okay. That is what healthy masculinity is all about. Women aren’t told to ‘woman up’ but men have to get up everyday and ‘man up’ and that is hard. To be able to admit that it is hard to measure up every day. Healthy masculinity is being able to admit that you can’t ‘man up’. Healthy masculinity is being able to say that men need help too from women and other men.”

In addressing the need for a comprehensive response to the issue of violence in Jamaica, Ms Brodber noted: “Men are more likely to get engaged in violence with other men, are more likely to have witnessed violence in their homes, are more likely to have been shamed as children. A lot of times we talk about ending crime, but we don't recognise that the investment to end crime does not happen in the prisons only. It happens in the homes first, and if you aren't addressing family violence, if you aren't addressing the normalisation of violence for children, you are not going to have a situation where crime is not a reality.”


(L-R): Nashan Miller, Acting Director, Male Empowerment Unit, Bureau of Gender Affairs; Dave Hazel, Interim Board Chairman, CariMAN Jamaica; Jayson Downer, MoGAVA. UN Women Photo/Dorian Clarke


Acting Director, Male Empowerment Unit, Bureau of Gender Affairs, Nashan Miller noted similarly  the importance of engaging men and boys in addressing gender-based violence: “The National Strategic Action Plan to eliminate Gender-based Violence in Jamaica (NSAP-GBV) 2017-2027, promotes the Due Diligence Framework and seeks to integrate men as partners to address GBV. While acknowledging that men are also victims of GBV, statistics provided by the Jamaica Constabulary Force Statistics and Information Management Units shows that men are the overwhelming perpetrators of GBV and IPV. Thus, it begs for more work and focus to be placed on our male counterparts to address this very problematic issue.“

Engaging men and boys in discourse around ending violence against women and girls is crucial because men continue to dominate leadership positions in political and economic life, and law enforcement. Men are already actively involved in the response to violence against women throughout the Caribbean, in roles as police officers, prosecutors, court clerks, magistrates and in government agencies that provide services and advocacy for survivors, however, there are a range of ways in which men can be more meaningfully engaged in efforts to prevent violence.


Picture of Kingston College Students and Terri Salmon, YARD Empire participating in breakout group session

(L-R): Kingston College Students and Terri Salmon, YARD Empire participate in breakout group session. UN Women Photo/Dorian Clarke


Owen ‘Blakka’ Ellis also commented on why more men were not involved in efforts to prevent and end violence against women and girls in Jamaica. He said: “Men aren’t involved because men are not as involved...Men follow what other men do and if the right man says is ‘suh it guh’, then men will accept that a ‘suh it guh’...Until we have more men leading and talking in these events, we won’t have more men in this work.”

The event also explored community focused, violence intervention programmes including those actively working with men and boys to end gender-based violence against women and girls. Forum participants were able to hear more male-focused initiatives being led by CariMAN, Men of God against Violence and Abuse (MOGAVA), and the JCC Sameer Younis Foundation, and engage with representatives from Youth for Development Network, Youth for Arts and Recreational Development (YARD) Empire and Project STAR.

This forum was held jointly under Pillar 3, the Prevention Pillar of the Spotlight Initiative which focuses on gender inequitable social norms, attitudes and behaviours change at community and individual levels, and Pillar 6, Supporting the Women’s Movement and Civil society organisations.