“Caribbean have a long way to go to achieve full gender equality in the workplace”, says Ambassador Thomas
By: Derrick Scott
Washington, D.C. – Touting Jamaica’s record Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States (OAS), His Excellency Ralph Thomas, has cited the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) ranking of the Caribbean nation as employing the highest proportion of women managers, globally.
“Nevertheless,” Ambassador Thomas stressed in a statement to his hemispheric colleagues in the OAS Permanent Council on Wednesday, as they reflected on International Women’s Day, March 8, “We have a way to go in order to achieve full gender equality in the workplace, especially when it comes to top management positions.”
International Women’s Day this year focused on how to “Step It Up for Gender Equality,” a theme which, the Jamaican diplomat noted, “encourages us to be more proactive in reaching the goal of the empowerment of women.”
He said that following recent general elections, Jamaica’s Parliament is now a historic 17 percent women. Other noteworthy developments he pointed out included the country’s new Cabinet comprising 20 percent women, among them the country’s first female Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, the Hon. Kamina Johnson Smith. “These are all major achievements for and by women of my country of which I and my delegation are very proud.”
On his country’s ongoing efforts to empower women, Ambassador Thomas said the Bureau of Women’s Affairs has continued to sensitize and train stakeholders to mainstream gender in all national policies, plans, programs and projects. He added that in keeping with the guiding principles of the National Policy for Gender Equality, Government remained committed to achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment.
“It has been generally acknowledged that without the advancement of women in our respective societies, there will continue to be extreme poverty, and underdevelopment,” the Ambassador told the Permanent Council meeting, chaired by Permanent Representative of Antigua and Barbuda, Sir Ronald Sanders. “It is unquestioned that including women in social and economic development – by providing equal access to opportunities for education, jobs with equal pay, and involvement in the political arena – will lead to a better society within which we all can live.”
Thomas, who is also Ambassador to the United States, said the OAS has a part to play in ensuring that resolutions, plans and programs are mainstreamed with this objective. He urged the OAS member states to make good on their commitment to empowering women, by more actively engaging in the work of the OAS’ Inter-American Commission of Women, and by supporting the work of the Follow-Up Mechanism of the Belém do Pará Convention on the Prevention, Punishment, and Eradication of Violence against Women.