Tackling violence against women and children in Jamaica

A new project in Jamaica, ‘Nurses! Echoing the Silent Cry of Women and Children to End Violence in Jamaica’, highlights the ongoing challenges to women and children suffering from gender-based violence. It is being developed as part of Nursing Now Jamaica.

Violence against women and children is a significant health, human rights and social problem affecting Jamaica and other societies, but often goes unrecognised and unreported. It has become a national priority for Jamaica but still continues to be a growing problem.

Jamaica has the second-highest femicide rate in the world and many women are killed by former partners. Much of the abuse of women and children happens in private and only gets highlighted when a murder or other gruesome act takes place. 

“We believe nurses and midwives have the potential to make a real difference”

Patricia Ingram Martin, the Acting Chief Nursing Officer at Jamaica’s Ministry of Health, said:

“Violence against women and children is certainly a challenge for us in Jamaica. The local nurses’ advocacy group started a project where they join the ‘Orange Day Campaign’ aimed at raising awareness and to end violence against women and girls. We are now building on this theme and will be focusing on training nurses and midwives to identify victims of violence against women and children, among other strategies. We believe nurses and midwives have the potential to make a real difference.”

Acts of violence against women and children have devastating and costly consequences for Jamaica, making the involvement of nurses in tackling the issue a welcome development.

Nurses represent 70-80% of the health care workforce in Jamaica, providing 90% of the care patients receive. They are predominately women, are trusted by their communities and are in pole position for instigating the kind of change that could empower women and protect children. As frontline health care providers, giving nurses the right training will enable them to appropriately identify, treat and refer women and children who are being abused.

Nursing Now Jamaica is developing a programme of action to echo and heed the cry to end violence among women and children.

It is currently planning and undertaking the following activities:

  1. Train nurses and midwives to identify violence-related abuse:
  • Train 20 trainers of trainers in violence prevention
  • Training 100 nurses over two years in violence prevention and conflict resolution strategies
  1. Include a module relating to violence reduction strategies in the nursing training curriculum:
  • Identify learning institutions to sensitise to violence prevention
  • Develop an internship program through the Office of the Chief Nursing Officer
  1. Develop a nursing communication strategy to increase awareness and forge partnerships for the reduction of violence against women and children:
  • Strengthen existing communication protocols
  • Roll out advertisements, bumper stickers, media articles and interviews
  • Organise an annual public march
  • Forge partnerships with key stakeholders
  1. Identify a champion nurse as a voice to amplify the silent cry of women and children

A project administrator assigned to the Office of the Chief Nursing Officer within Jamaica’s Ministry of Health will manage the project implementation and monitoring to ensure sustainability.

Raising Awareness – Nurses and Midwives as Advocates

The United Nations’ UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign has proclaimed the 25th day of each month as ‘Orange Day’, a day to raise awareness and take action to end violence against women and girls. November 25th is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

The Nurses Association of Jamaica (NAJ) organised and led marches in June 2016 and 2017. There are plans to host Orange Day activities several times a year in a drive to end the scourge of violence against women and children. The target audience for these activities will be nurses, midwives, community members and leaders. 

Forging new partnerships to drive change

New partnerships are being developed by nurses and midwives with organisations that support victims of violence, including: UN Women, Institute for Gender and Development Studies (IGDS), PAHO/WHO, Jamaica Midwives Association (JMA), Nurses Association of Jamaica (NAJ), Women’s Crisis Centre, Jamaica Constabulary Force, church groups and the Nursing Council of Jamaica.

Over the next three years, we will follow the progress of Nursing Now Jamaica and this campaign, recording and sharing lesson learned and new activities.

For more information, please contact:

Ms Patricia Ingram Martin
Chief Nursing Officer (Acting)
Ministry of Health

Mrs Shirley Hibbert
Deputy Chief Nursing Officer
Ministry of Health
317-8691 (CUG), 791-1316