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How Social Media Shakes Up Public Health

By Georgia Venner

Gender-based violence (GBV) describes any violence rooted in gender-based power inequalities and gender-based discrimination. It includes intimate partner violence, sexual assault and harassment, trafficking of women and girls, and threats of such acts. GBV undermines women’s reproductive, physical and psychological health. Gender based violence remains a critical issue in Jamaica and strong advocacy to high-level officials is necessary to ensure change.Sexual and reproductive health issues such as GBV in Jamaica are influenced by poverty, poor access to services, delayed economic growth, unemployment, a lack of education especially among males, and crime and violence. This has ultimately led to national public health problems and high spending, and the violation of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) among all persons. November 25 marked the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (Resolution 54/134). In order to raise awareness of this real and intense issue across the country and world, our organization, the Jamaica Family Planning Association (JFPA) and many other civil society organizations, took the streets in Kingston to partake in a silent protest hosted by Jamaica AIDS Support for Life (JASL). Instead of writing, I wanted to express the events of the day using social media. I pulled pictures publically posted of the event from all mediums, and turned it into a collage to justify the emotions and actions of the day. Jamaicans are leaders in social media. Us interns have quickly learned the power of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram in order to contribute to the global conversation and hear the struggles of the public to better our work as health advocates. The protest was live tweeted, filmed, and photographed throughout all social media platforms. Importantly, a Twitter chat was used at the end of the day to close the event off with a bang. A Twitter chat is a platform that allows users to participate in real-time conversations under a unique hashtag and pre-determined questions by the organization that is hosting it. Soon enough, the global conversation turns into a diverse and active community. To get a better idea, I took snapshots of the public Twitter chat we had on Friday to illustrate the influential capabilities of a conversation with like-minded people. Before you explore the two visuals, here are some quick stats on GBV and SRH issues in Jamaica[1],[2]:

  • 73% of the women and 57% of the men reported “any sexual coercion” in relationships

  • Girls within the 15-19 age cohort are four to five times more vulnerable to HIV transmission than same-aged boys due to intergenerational and transactional sex

  • 33% of 15-24 year olds reported sexual debut before the age of 15, despite the legal age for accessing healthcare without parental consent being 18 years

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[1] CARICOM. Integrated Strategic Framework for the Reduction of Adolescent Pregnancy in the Caribbean [Internet]. Organization of Eastern Caribbean States; 2015 [cited 2016 Oct 27]. 15 p. Available from: [2] Ministry of Health. National Integrated Strategic Plan for Sexual and Reproductive Health &HIV 2014-2019 [Internet]. Jamaica: Ministry of Health; n.d. [cited 2016 Oct 20]. 105 p. Available from:

Georgia Venner is working as Health Education Programme Manager with Jamaica Family Planning Association/FAMPLAN in Jamaica.

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