Jamaica has been honoured by the European Union (EU) for its role in the empowerment of women, in particular for closing the gender gap in terms of women, who work in public administration.
A beaming Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, accepted the award on behalf of Jamaica, during a high profile gala and awards dinner hosted on Wednesday, November 27, by the Women In Parliaments (WIP) Global Forum, at the Royal Museum Of Art and History in Brussels, Belgium.
The award is given to a country that has achieved a remarkable level of representation by women in the legislature, as senior officials and managers.
“I find it gratifying that the European Union has recognized Jamaica’s achievement in the area of gender equality. I accept with a spirit of humility on behalf of the women of Jamaica, who I represent, and to whom I pay tribute this evening,” she said.
Mrs. Simpson Miller noted that many Jamaican women continue to make their mark in their various spheres of endeavors despite the odds. She thanked the European Parliament and WIPs Forum for their initiative in providing an avenue for discussion on women’s leadership, noting that the experience has been enriching.
“Let us therefore vow to make gender equality a reality in this generation,” she urged the participants.
The Prime Minister urged the young women in the audience to pursue their dream and not to be daunted by obstacles. “I want to say to the young women, be strong, be courageous. There are some who will say that politics is not a good thing, but if it is not good and good people do not get involved, it will remain bad, so we need to be engaged and involved,” she said to loud cheers from the packed room.
She stated that politics is an area where women can influence change in policy. Mrs. Simpson Miller urged the young women to use the successful women in the room as examples, telling them “you can make a contribution to your country and to humanity.”
She said her greatest joy is serving.
President of the EU- Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) Foundation, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, who made the presentation to the Prime Minister, noted that 28 per cent of the country’s mayors and 56 per cent of Permanent Secretaries are females. In addition females dominate top positions such as Chief Justice, accountant general and other top public posts.
The WIP awards are based on the rankings of the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report, and are awarded to countries for leadership in closing the gender gap.
The gender gap report assesses 135 countries, representing more than 93 per cent of the world’s population on how well resources and opportunities are divided among male and female populations. It measures the size of the gender gap in four areas: economic participation and opportunity – salaries, participation and highly skilled employment; education – access to basic and higher levels of education; political empowerment – representation in decision making structures; health and survival – life expectancy and sex ratio.
Other winners in the category of political empowerment are Rwanda, for Women in Parliament; and Ireland for number of years with Female Head of State. Iceland was named the Global Winner in Closing the Gender Gap.
By Andrea Braham