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BEWARE! Girls urged to protect themselves on social media

The Institute for Gender Development Studies booth was popular with the students.

STATE MINISTER of Education, Youth and Information, Floyd Green, urged young girls to be mindful of the dangers when navigating social media. “Sometimes we overdo our social media profile and think that we must share everything. The reality in the cyberworld is that you may have different people with access to your information. They will know everything about you. Not everybody will use this information for good. You need to look at the social media footprint you are leaving and be very careful,” he cautioned the students. The state minister was speaking at the second National Conference on Girls’ Education and launch of the 2017 UNFPA 2017 State of World Population Report (SOWP) at the Jamaica Conference Centre in Kingston on November 15, which was held under the theme, ‘Seeing Tomorrow: Thriving in a Cyberworld.’

Minister Green also encouraged the girls present to explore careers in information technology as there is a growing need in the sector. “This is a true pathway to the empowerment of girls that we need to continue having. It will help to remove barriers on professions that are biased to a (particular) gender. More girls need to go into engineering and coding,” he said, while noting that his ministry was on a drive to get more girls to pursue that course of study. The minister, who officially launched the 2017 SOWP report, received a copy on behalf of the Government from Siti Batoul- Oyssein, deputy director, UNFPA Sub- Regional Office of the Caribbean. The report highlights the importance of investing in the sexual and reproductive health rights in adolescent girls as a way to reduce poverty. Meanwhile, the minister was among several speakers at the event.

In a message from the minister with responsibility for gender, Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange, she said that for girls to thrive in a cyberworld, they must first enjoy full and equal access to participation in socially valued goods and services, including reproductive health services. Manager of health and population at the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), Toni- Shae Freckleton, said that Jamaica now has the largest proportion of youth, and that investment in girls, in particular, is an effective strategy to meet national development priorities, which can contribute to reduction in inequality that will break intergenerational cycles of poverty. The all-day conference featured speakers in the fields of psychology and online entrepreneurship, and highlighted aspects of online safety and business opportunities that the girls should consider. In addition to the sessions for the girls, there was a workshop for parents running concurrently, titled ‘Raising Resilient Girls in a Cyberworld’ . The National Conference of Girls Education is an event of St Hugh’s High School and was attended by more than 1,000 girls from five schools.

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