Nurse Kevin Allen (left) receives HeForShe pin from Taitu Heron of UN Women

Challenging Gender Stereotypes

An Open Conversation with Mrs. Jacqueline Smikle, Bus Driver employed to the Jamaica Urban Transit Company and Mr. Kevin Allen, Registered Nurse-Psychiatry. June 16, 2016. All UNDP staff including staff from UN Women attended the session.

It was convened in response to the need for engagement on gender, expressed by CO staff, in more practical terms, to demonstrate how one’s everyday life is impacted by the reality of gender relations.  The conversation between the two professionals was designed to sensitize participants on how gender stereotypes can and do shape occupational choices and can drive gender inequality, but how individual agency can be a powerful lever for change.

-    Through questions and comments many related-gender issues were raised, for example:
-    The impact of ‘non-traditional’ occupational choices on power dynamics in the family;
-    - Public response to men and women in ‘non-traditional occupations’ and the challenge      of   achieving behaviour change. “I will never make a male nurse touch me”; “He (as a nurse) should not be there” (in the delivery room at hospital) were cited among the response to the Nurse.
-    Gender and mental illness – family and community attitudes and response. “ It takes more resources to manage a male than a female mental health patient.  For example, although patients are encouraged to access care at the health centres, males are more reluctant to do so. Consequently, eighty present (80%) of males and only 20% of females are visited at home for administering of medications, etc.”.
-    Gender and decision-making- seen for example in the Executive of the Nurses Association of Jamaica (1 male in over 20 females) might be a factor in the slow recruitment of males for training in the profession. Gender stereotyping is strong within as well as outside of the profession.
-    Gender and occupations and the impact on women’s position in society.
-    Policy issues -are there incentives to increase from 20% the proportion of female bus drivers and to male recruitment in nursing from the existing marginal level?

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