As we observe International Women’s Day
United Nations Secretary General António Guterres makes a very telling observation in his message marking today’s observation of International Women’s Day.
According to Mr Guterres, "closing the gender gap in employment could add US$12 trillion to global GDP by 2025".
That projection is particularly relevant in the face of the theme for this year’s International Women’s Day – ‘Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030’.
"The idea of this theme," the UN tells us, "is to consider how to accelerate the 2030 Agenda, building momentum for the effective implementation of the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially goal number five [which is to] achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls" and goal number four, which is to "ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning".
The fact that the world’s leaders have all agreed to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development should, we expect, make it easier for the goals to be achieved.
This newspaper would be particularly pleased if, by 2030, the world could state with conviction that some of the key targets of the agenda have been achieved, namely that all girls and boys were able to complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education; that they all have access to quality early childhood development, care and preprimary education; that all forms of discrimination against women and girls no longer existed; that all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation were eliminated; and that all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation were no more.
That, we believe, would be a fitting tribute to the many strong advocates of human rights and the women who have no doubt played extraordinary roles in the development of their communities and, indeed, their countries.
Locally, we can be proud to acknowledge that Jamaica has achieved significant progress in fostering gender equality and the empowerment of women. Indeed, an increasing number of women are heads of businesses and are among the country’s top decision-makers.
But even as we acknowledge those achievements, we have not lost sight of the fact that there is still more work to be done to ensure that we overcome entrenched prejudice.
For, as Secretary General Guterres so correctly stated in his message: "Gender equality has a transformative effect that is essential to fully functioning communities, societies and economies."
It is therefore vital that as the Government increases its push for economic growth it develops and institutes programmes and policies that work to the greater benefit of the female population.
That reality is borne out well in the following argument advanced by the United Nations: "The world of work is changing, and with significant implications for women. On one hand, we have globalisation, technological and digital revolution and the opportunities they bring, and on the other hand, the growing informality of labour, unstable livelihoods and incomes, new fiscal and trade policies and environmental impacts — all of which must be addressed in the context of women’s economic empowerment."