Press Release


SHADOW PANDEMIC – Child Sexual Abuse on the rise


Kingston, Jamaica, April 27, 2021 - The COVID-19 pandemic has created a “shadow pandemic” that is an even greater threat to Jamaica’s well-being the Women’s Leadership Initiative (WLI) has said. 


Speaking at the opening ceremony of the WLI 2021 child sexual abuse prevention training programme for educators of Central Branch Primary, Lezanne Azan, Darkness to Light Certified Facilitator and a member of the WLI Advocacy Committee noted that “since the outbreak of COVID-19 emerging data and reports from those on the more 



 April 26, 2021 - The Executive and members of the Women’s Leadership Initiative (WLI) join with all right-thinking Jamaicans in condemning the violence against women in Jamaica that is now approaching epidemic proportions. This is now a societal crisis and the authorities need to acknowledge the seriousness of the crimes being committed against women and move urgently to prevent them and to punish the perpetrators, where they do occur.

As an organization focused on supporting and empowering 
women, the WLI, a Special Committee of the United Way of Jamaica, notes that our women have in recent years been making significant gains in a range of areas - more 



Kingston, Dec. 28, 2020 - Excitement filled the air at the  Maxfield Park Children’s Home in Kingston and Yadel Girl’s Home in Clarendon as the Eustace Lee Ltd., truck rolled in with bicycles for the young residents. One girl at Yadel, overjoyed, by the gift of a “pretty new bicycle” declared, “I’m not taking the plastic off yet”.  A group of boys at Maxfield Park eagerly mounted their bikes and rode happily around the facility.

Renee Menzies McCallum, Chair of the Women’s Leadership Initiative (WLI) was full of praise for Eustace Lee Ltd. a major distributor of hardware, haberdashery, tools and plumbing supplies in Downtown, Kingston, who donated 8 bicycles to each home complete with spare tyres and pumps. The WLI and Kirk Lee, Managing Director more



WLI to Host International Women’s Day Forum


Kingston, March 5, 2018 – The Women’s Leadership Initiative (WLI) will host an International Women’s Day Forum on March 8, 2018, entitled, “#Me Too – The Jamaican Response”.  The event is sponsored by JMMB Group and Citi.



Noting that “the Me Too Movement has gathered steam in the US, led largely by prominent women confronting/accusing their equally prominent male sexual abusers”, WLI Chair, Chorvelle Johnson said that the Forum, from 2:00-5:00pm, at the Jamaica Pegasus, “will advance the conversation with a focus on what Jamaican women’s groups are more



Other News Links$14m_Transition_House_for_abused_women_in_Jamaica;_Child_sexual_abuse_on_the_rise_220339






Poet Laureate, Lorna Goodison and Della Manley for Tea & Tales


Kingston, June 26, 2017: Jamaica’s Poet Laureate, Lorna Goodison, CD, and Songstress Della Manley were the featured artistes at “Tea & Tales” hosted by the Women’s Leadership Initiative (WLI) at the Jamaica Pegasus on Sunday, July 9, 2017.

Sponsored by Proven Wealth, COK Sodality Cooperative Credit Union, Jamaica Observer and the Gleaner Company (Media) Limited, the event, benefited children with Kidney Disease, and saw Goodison reading from her award-winning book “From Harvey River”.  Ms. Manley offered a suite of original songs and covers

Chorvelle Johnson, Chair of the WLI said that “as an organization, specifically focused on improving the welfare of women and children, WLI takes great pride in presenting the work of these two very accomplished women.  All the more so as part proceeds of this event will help finance dialysis treatment for some of the nation’s children.”

Ms. Johnson noted that the WLI, a special committee of the United Way of Jamaica, has over the past 14 years, provided financing for upgrading of services and facilities at the Voluntary Organization for the Upliftment of Children (VOUCH), provided scholarships to tertiary institutions and mentorship services for young women.

The organization’s flagship programme aims to reduce/eliminate child sexual abuse by training caregivers, teachers, parents and administrators of Children’s Homes to prevent/detect such activities.

WLI Chair, Chorvelle Johnson (right) and Deputy Chair, Renee Menzies McCallum (left) with Jamaica’s Poet Laureate, Lorna Goodison, CD at the WLI-hosted “Tea & Tales” at the Jamaica Pegasus on July 9, 2017


WLI Please Train Us too – Women’s Centre Appeal at International Women’s Day Forum


Kingston, March 8, 2017: The Women’s Centre of Jamaica (WCJ) has appealed to the Women’s Leadership Initiative (WLI) to train its counsellors to detect and prevent child sexual abuse.


The call came at an International Women’s Day Breakfast Forum hosted by the WLI at the Jamaica Pegasus today (March 8, 2017).  The WLI has earned tremendous respect for its advocacy programmes including the hosting of “Darkness to Light” workshops which educate participants to prevent sexual abuse before it happens, to recognize signs of sexual abuse in children and unsafe behaviours in adults and teach persons how to react responsibly when a child discloses or an adult discovers or suspects sexual abuse.


Speaking in the Open Session of the Forum, Dr. Zoe Simpson, Executive Director of the WCJ praised the WLI for its training of teachers, parents, social workers and administrators of Children’s Homes and others.  She noted that training by the WLI of the entire staff of the Allman Town Primary School and the Sylvia Foote Basic School at the Voluntary Organization for the Upliftment of Children (VOUCH) which has now earned the distinction of becoming a Darkness to Light “Partner in Prevention”.


“Train us too please”, she urged the WLI explaining that “WCJ serves a large adolescent community, many of whom are in abusive relationships”.  Dr. Simpson’s comments followed very frank and emotive presentations by three women who spoke of their own personal experiences with child sexual abuse and physical abuse in adulthood.  Lezanne Azan, Chair of the WLI Advocacy & Heath Committee, confirmed that the WLI will be expanding training this year, building on the success already achieved.


Noting the theme of International Women’s Day 2017 “Be Bold for Change”, Chorvelle Johnson, Chair of the WLI, said that while the WLI has earned a reputation for the work it does in promoting the protection of children, sisterhood and the advancement of women while contributing to nation building, “we are not an organization which only celebrates good times.”


Ms. Johnson said that “the WLI is trying to do our part and this is why we cannot ignore the increasing reports of violence, especially against women and girls.”  This, she said, informed the Forum of the WLI Breakfast Forum which sought to “ventilate experiences and suggest concrete action that can help prevent, reduce the incidence of and help girls and women to overcome the unfortunate criminal, vicious and violent acts against them.”


Sharing her experiences and suggestions for helping women to prevent and recover from physical abuse, Amb. Aloun Ndombet Assamba, CEO, COK Sodality Cooperative Credit Union, urged victims to “talk about it” and not “travel through life thinking of yourself as damaged goods”.


She called for “safe places across Jamaica where abused women could seek shelter and support without shame.”


Donna Duncan-Scott, Group Executive Director, Culture & Human Development, JMMB Group urged adults “if you suspect something, act.”  She noted that when “sexual grooming” of a child is taking place, adults often notice changes in behavior which arouse their suspicions but they do nothing about it.  As a result, she said “victims feel alone, unworthy, damaged.”  She said “the love, care and understanding shown to the abused can help take the shame away from them and put it at the foot of the abuser.”


Valerie Facey, Founder/Director, The Mill Press said that sexual abuse is a “vicious cycle that often occurs from generation to generation and that “adults have a responsibility to protect the children, must be alert and aware of where their child is and with whom and ensure their trust is never betrayed.”


Speaking in the Open Session, Khadene “Miss Kitty” Hylton, Talk Show Host, called on mothers to teach their sons “to protect and respect girls and women”.  She noted that while it was commonplace for mothers to advise their sons to find “bright or pretty partners”, too few also urge, “take care of the people daughter”.


Bravely presenting his views at the Forum attended predominantly by women, Singer Tony Rebel urged participants to “forgive the men that abused them” and pleaded for “understanding” for men who are themselves abused.


The WLI Breakfast Forum was addressed by Mrs. Sharon Coburn-Robinson, Director Policy & Research, Bureau of Gender Affairs, representing Hon. Olivia Grange, Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment & Sport.


Queen Ifrica delivered two songs including “Climb” from her latest album of the same title and “Daddy Don’t Touch Me There”.


JMMB, Proven Wealth, First Global Bank, the Jamaica Observer and Gleaner Company (Media) Limited were sponsors of the event.




(l-r) Women’s Leadership Initiative (WL) Chair, Chorvelle Johnson with Forum Discussants - Amb. Aloun Ndombet Assamba, CEO, COK Sodality Cooperative Credit Union; Donna Duncan-Scott, Group Executive Director Culture & Human Development, JMMB Group and Valerie Facey, Founder/Director, The Mill Press following an International Women’s Day Breakfast Forum hosted by the WLI at the Jamaica Pegasus today (March 8, 2017).  

(l-r) Chorvelle Johnson, Chair, WLI; Diahann Gordon Harrison, Children’s Advocate; WLI Advocacy Committee Chair and Deputy, Lezanne Azan and Herma McRae at an International Women’s Day Breakfast Forum hosted by the WLI at the Jamaica Pegasus today (March 8, 2017). 


Chairs (l-r) Chorvelle Johnson, Current WLI Chair and Past Chairs Eva Lewis and Sharon Lake an International Women’s Day Breakfast Forum hosted by the WLI at the Jamaica Pegasus today (March 8, 2017).