KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) — Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Olivia Grange, has lauded the work of the Jamaica Women’s Political Caucus for advancing the cause of women in the political landscape.
“I commend the Jamaica Women’s Political Caucus for giving Jamaica 25 years of unrivalled service to the cause of encouraging and facilitating the participation of women in representational politics at the highest level,” she said.
Grange was speaking at the 25th anniversary awards luncheon of the caucus at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston yesterday.
“Your non-partisan organisation has become a regional trendsetter and a brand in providing high-quality leadership training for aspiring female politicians.
The work of the caucus over the years has contributed immensely to building awareness on the significance of having women strategically placed as pivotal to the decision-making process,” she said. The minister noted, as well, that the Caucus also plays an important role in promoting a culture of participation.
“Your work has served to challenge stereotypical norms of behaviour, structural barriers and standards of performance. Through advocacy and intensive training, the Caucus has challenged and redefined the prerequisites for women’s entry into the field of representational politics,” Grange added.
The minister noted that this has led to more women becoming involved in political leadership. Meanwhile, Grange said while the country has “female political heavyweights” in local politics, a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) study in 2016 entitled ‘Where are the Women’ shows that only 20 per cent of the island’s Cabinet ministers and senators are female.
“This is still below the 30 per cent target set in the National Policy for Gender Equality of 2011. As a minister and as Member of Parliament, I believe that it is important to reach this target to ensure that women are sitting at the top of political leadership, and so I want to encourage everyone here who has the energy to get involved and strive to get to the top,” she said.
The minister said this is important, as women bring a balanced perspective to developmental issues such as equal pay, domestic violence, other forms of gender-based violence, sexual harassment at the workplace, corruption, campaign financing, maternity laws, inheritance laws and matters impacting women. In the meantime, seven outstanding women were honoured for their role in advancing the cause of women, through their work in the Caucus.
They are Minister Grange; former Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller; Jeanette Grant Woodham, Evelyn Smart, Hermione McKenzie, Marie Thompson and Merline Daley. Responding, Grange said she is very happy to have met the criteria to be selected for a special award.
“I accept this award with humility as a servant of the people, and I wish the Caucus continued success,” she said.