The Huairou Commission stands in solidarity with the people of Jamaica and the grassroots women leaders of Kingston in particular, as they continue working to mitigate the violent situation that has taken hold of Kingston.
The Huairou Commission Secretariat is in regular communication with the women leaders of GROOTS Jamaica, who continue to work on the ground amidst the violence. The grassroots women leaders of GROOTS Jamaica are in constant communication with their loved ones and GROOTS Jamaica members to ensure their well-being. In the short term, the women leaders are working in their own communities to ensure that food packages make it directly into women's hands. They are working to get basic necessities for women and they give each other constant moral and emotional peer support. The groups plan to organize healing sessions among women, a good practice they have used for years. The healing sessions will form part of a forward-looking anti-violence strategy to rebuild their communities as safe spaces.
The Sistren Theatre Collective, Construction Resource and Development Centre and the Fletcher's Land Parenting Association, along with many other community women's groups and community groups with a strong women's leadership component, have been members of GROOTS International and working with the member networks of the Huairou Commission for a number of years. Two years ago, they established themselves as a national network, GROOTS Jamaica. As a network, leaders and groups in poor rural and urban areas link together, creating relationships of mutual support and solidarity among women who work to strengthen their communities.
The Huairou Commission has faith that the women leaders of GROOTS Jamaica will lead the way in rebuilding safer communities when the violence has subsided. Sistren Theatre Collective implements the Citizen Security and Justice Programme, a violence reduction and prevention initiative, and the members use street theater, dance, photography, music, and other forms of media to build peace in some of Kingston's most impoverished and violent communities.
In the past, Fletcher's Land Parenting Association has coordinated peace demonstrations, negotiated with the local government, and started a community parenting program within the neighborhood. The women leaders of Jamaica will continue this valuable work, but clearly they need local, national and international support in their long term efforts to build safer communities on their own terms.
The Huairou Commission continues to urge the police, the city of Kingston,country of Jamaica and international relief, humanitarian and peacekeepers to recognize women's vulnerability to insecurity and violence in times of crisis, and to also support women to take a central role in reconstructing their communities in this situation of violence. We continue to send our thoughts and prayers to the women, men and children of Jamaica.
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