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<pJAMAICA has been encouraged to work to realise the vision of a prosperous, inclusive and enabling society that enables women to have an equal opportunity for a share of the economic pie.
UN Women Regional Coordinator Esther Senso said unconscious bias and gender-based violence are barriers to women's access to a full range of opportunities, and are both based in the deeply rooted causes of gender-based discrimination.
She was speaking at the recent launch of the Win-Win: Gender equality means good business programme in Jamaica.
“During the last decade across Latin America and the Caribbean, there has been significant progress towards gender equality and the empowerment of women; however, women's economic empowerment, and hence economic independence, are absolutely necessary to reach higher rates of economic growth and greater macroeconomic stability,” Senso said.
Head of delegation of the European Union (EU) to Jamaica, Ambassador Malgorzata Wasilewska, also highlighted that Jamaica had made significant efforts in closing the gender gap in terms of women who work in public administration.
“But we know that despite the strides being made, Jamaica still has some way to go to fully achieve its own targets. Too many women are still being affected by violence. Many of our households are headed by women who face abuse, which is connected to economic dependency. If we empower our women, help them to gain economic independence, we would be improving and creating a better society,” she added.
Vanessa Phala, senior specialist, employers' activities, ILO Decent Work Team and Office for the Caribbean, said statistics confirm that global progress towards gender diversity is mixed and moving slowly for women who aspire to attain top management positions or serve as chairpersons or members of company boards.
“In 2017 we concluded a Caribbean regional report on women in business and management (WIBM). We collected over 600 responses from 13 Caribbean countries, and from Jamaica alone we collected about 50 responses. We are expanding on the WIBM survey for Jamaica, and as a result we will be collecting additional surveys to develop a much more comprehensive national report for Jamaica with clear recommendations,” she said.
Jamaica is the lone Caribbean country participating in the Win-Win programme being implemented in Latin America and the Caribbean. It is a strategic partnership between UN Women, the International Labor Organization and the EU for the promotion of gender equality in the private sector. The other countries are Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, and Uruguay.
UN Women national private sector specialist for Jamaica, Dr Denise Chevannes Vogel, explained that a scope of the Jamaica business environment showed that gender stereotyping persists — women are segregated educationally and occupationally. Women's enterprises are also in the low-growth sectors and there are constraints in access to productive resources, and women often have difficulty accessing finance and lack the requisite business skills.
The goal of the programme is to promote the economic empowerment of women through acknowledging them as beneficiaries and partners of growth and development, while increasing the commitment and capacities of private and public actors to drive organisational change regarding gender equality and women's empowerment.