Celebrate Jamaican women
March 8 was International Woman’s Day, and all around the world, there were events celebrating the achievements and contribution of women.
Here in Jamaica, you could see a myriad of activities that highlighted the work of many amazing Jamaican women.
It’s no secret that our little island has some of the most innovative, hard-working and talented women in the world, and the evidence of our achievements has shown up everywhere, including the arts, politics, business.
While I am very happy that Jamaica is a country that celebrates and has opportunities for women to choose their lives, I think we have some work to do, especially if we want to meet our commitments in the Vision 2030.
There are a few issues that I believe our policymakers must address.
Gender pay gap – Jamaican women still make 60 cents to the dollar in comparison to their male counterparts. The solution to this is pretty simple. Salaries should be determined based on merit, not gender – equal pay for equal work.
Full reproductive rights – Abortion is still illegal in Jamaica and this affects women’s health negatively because the legal status of abortion does not stop the demand for it. So many find themselves with unwanted pregnancies, and they have to turn to desperate measures that can sometimes be fatal. Parliament is currently exploring making adjustments to the laws affecting abortion, and this is an important conversation to which we must pay attention.
Paternit y leave – The idea of paternity leave is a strange one in Jamaican culture because childcare is still considered the woman’s job. So fathers getting time off to care for their children seems very far-fetched, but if we are seriously committing to gender equality, then paternity leave will be an important step.
I am happy with the strides that Jamaican women have made thus far, and the truth is, Jamaica is a great place for women to flourish. But we still have some issues to address.
For now, I am happy to live in a country where a woman has been the prime minister, we have women entrepreneurs innovating, and our female artistes and artists continue to affect world culture. We have much to be proud of. Happy (belated) International Women’s Day, ladies.