You can tell a great deal about a country by the way it treats its women and children. The status that they occupy in the hierarchy of the society is usually a good indicator of whether the country is progressive or backward, oppressive or caring. What can we say about Jamaica? Over the years, Jamaica has made progress at lifting the status of women and girls. We are happy to report that more women are being employed as professionals, senior officials and technicians. However, on this day of celebration we also reflect on how much more we need to do. Women are still in the minority in company boardrooms and in politics. We must re-double our efforts to change that quickly. Increasing the number of women decision-makers at the highest levels is essential for ensuring equality, raising the visibility of women’s issues and working towards solutions. We all benefit when women and men work together to deal with our various challenges. Violence is still a challenging reality for too many of our women. No woman or girl should ever be hit or abused in any way. There is no excuse for abuse. We must not only believe those words, we must live by them. As government, we are determined to end violence against women and girls through legislative, policy and programmatic initiatives.
In spite of the challenges and inequalities, by and large, ours is a society in which a young girl feels free to make her choices and to live as a liberated, confident woman. Today, we celebrate the many achievements of women in Jamaica and the significant contributions they make in every area of life. I encourage all Jamaicans to join me in celebrating International Women’s Day. Let us all commit to advancing gender equality and make Jamaica a place where all women and girls can achieve their great potential.
Olivia Grange, CD, MP Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport