Makers of Peace

I’m Professor Opal Palmer Adisa from Kingston Jamaica where I live and work, the home to reggae music, jerk food and the fastest woman and man in the world. I am a writer of poetry , prose, essays and children’s books. I am a feminist, gender specialist and cultural activist.

From I was in my twenties I have been writing and advocating gender justice, especially in the area of children’s right, specifically for girls to be safe and protected from sexual and physical abuse.

I have also been advocating against gender-based violence, in particular domestic violence that disproportionately affects women and children. I have worked with diverse groups that have made these issues their charge. I have written extensively on the issue, in fact my first short story collection, Bake-Face and Other Guava Stories, 1985, explores both of these issues.

When I was living and teaching in California, USA I taught at California College of the Arts, and headed the Diversity Studies programme, where among looking at Ethnic inclusion also worked  for gender equality; I also works  the Berkeley women’s center, designing and conducting workshops in shelters for women on self-empowerment and regaining their voice after years of domestic abuse.

In the US Virgin Island I worked with the V.I. Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Council and The Women’s Coalition of St Croix, where I wrote and directed plays as a result of interviewing women on the issue of childhood sexual trauma and domestic violence.

 In Jamaica, as the outgoing University Director of The Institute for Gender and Development Studies, with units in Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago, I had the distinct opportunity to oversee and direct programs that tackled these issues, as well as liaison with community service organizations and NGOs throughout the Caribbean regio n to network around these issues. I have been promoting intergenerational networking of veteran advocates with emerging advocates to build capacity, share best practices and learn from each other and work together to solves many of these issues, especially GBV.  As the present initiator of Thursday in Black in Jamaica, I have led island-wide campaign/demonstrations to bring public awareness to GBV and work to reduce and eventually eliminate it.

Gender equality is the necessary prerequisite to bring about a culture of peace and, it is crucial that women and girls, and men and boys are involved in every aspect of peacebuilding as we must learn to co-exist and thrive together. Gender inequality negatively impacts everyone in the society, and while some men due to their patriarchal upbringing, believe they will lose out as a result of gender equality; they are mistaken.  Everyone wins when the scale is evenly balanced.  Women and girls get to make independent choices and men and boys are no longer have to bear the burden of being bread-winners or protectors as everyone will contribute to their own welfare and safety.  And more importantly, for development, the full participation, intellectual, physical and other areas of both women and men and girls and boys will allow for greater progress over a shorter period of time, and the combination of innate skills will result in peace and more respect and Intunement with our environment. 

Gender equality is the vision of the future that we are working to ensure will be a reality. We are all daily dying from lack of peace, from conflict, from inequality. I firmly believe GE will rebalance and allows us to recalibrate how we can live and work together in peace and harmony.

I identify as an African Jamaican because my ancestral roots are in Africa, and that sense of geographic roots grounds and connects me in a visceral way with the people of Africa; their struggles are mine, and mine theirs, and their past and present achievements are likewise mine.

People of the African diasporas in Jamaica and throughout  Caribbean will feel more connected to their African roots if they are taught about Africa, not just the history of enslavement, where they are always told their people sold them, and never about their people who valiantly fought to keep them from slavery, not about the great accomplishments of Africans way before the Europeans and Asia, and all the natural resources of Africa that has and is still continuing to benefit the world, include the very technology that we now take for granted. We don’t know this history.  We are not taught to love ourselves and honour our ancestors. The education system must change from the colonial model to a Caribbean/African model.

Jamaicans and other Caribbean people have been and will continue to be  involved in contributing to a culture of peace in Africa.  Jamaica was one of the first countries to boycott South African for its racist, apartheid policy; our musicians, Peter Tosh, Bob  Marley, Juddy Mowatt,  and many others have sang about freedom and liberation and peace. Reggae music is known and appreciated globally for its message of peace and liberation; its call to stand and end sufferation… We have been working to bring about peace and have joined out sisters and brothers throughout the African continent to amplify that message and end colonnization.  But more needs and can be done.  One way is to allow for more educational and trade exchange between the Caribbean and Africa; African languages and its full history must be taught throughout the Caribbean. We have to examine and adopt some of the measures of the Queen Mothers of Ghana and the sisters of Nzinga, with our own Nanny and other female fighters, their  strategy and methods of resolving conflict and building coalition can be insightful to our struggles.

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