Yow my beloved peeps, tell me. What more can we do individually and collectively to help prevent all kinds of violence? And what do you really know, or how do you feel about the frighteningly increasing incidences of gender-based violence? Then tell me this, can a young woman 'man up?' Or can a young man actually be a feminist? Oh, and one last question: what exactly is a healthy relationship?
Is some very deep and serious questions dem deh, don't it? Yeah my peeps; and I definitely don't have any ready answers. But this coming week I'll be enjoying the pleasure and honour of being a co-host for what promises to be an exciting day-long event for school youths in Toronto. And that event will explore questions such as those and much more, in creative, participatory and fun ways. Mi cyaant wait!
Hear how di ting set. It's an International Women's Day Forum for young people aimed at generating discussions and advancing education to end gender-based violence and promote healthy relationships. It will be held at York University on Friday March 4, 2011 starting at 9am. The event is being organised by the 'BeLovEd' Movement under the theme 'be inspired, love yourself, educate others'. Mi love dat.
OK, so what's this movement? The Beloved movement is a stimulating campaign utilising workshops and arts-based ideas including posters, theatre and mural art, as well as radio and video public service announcements, to raise awareness and respond to the issue of gender-based violence.
And what motivated the movement? The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) released a school safety report called 'The Road to Health' in January 2008. And the report raised serious concern about the level of violence taking place within Toronto's high schools. The report found that sexual assault and sexual harassment are prevalent in Toronto schools, with 33 per cent of the students surveyed reporting that they have been a victim of sexual harassment in school over the past two years. The report also confirmed what many people suspected, that gender-based violence (GBV) occurs often and goes unreported. Sound like is Jamaica dem a talk bout eeh?
Well, the community responded! Yeah man, the Network of Community Based Organisations (NCBO) which is a body made up of community groups based in the Jane/Finch / Black Creek communities wanted to do more than we in Jamaica tend to do (you know, like releasing statements of condemnation and 'expressing concern' and dem boring ting deh!) They did a whole heap of stuff!
They sought to support a community, youth-driven response to the sobering findings. They hosted a series of community meetings with key stakeholders, identified key messages for the campaign and formed a working group. They secured funding and created a 'Strong Women, Strong Communities' mural project.
They organised community consultation sessions and commissioned work to local artists, conducted workshops with youth to develop PSAs, media advertisements, posters and other marketing tools. They established partnerships. And they organized International Women's Day Forums like the one I will participate in this week.
Alright, so why am I sharing all this? It's a really positive movement. And I want to invite my co-host, community health worker and Beloved organiser Lisa Brown to come do a similar beloved thing with me in Jamaica! Wha unnu say people?