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Jamaica joins the international community in the celebration of International Women’s Day, today 8th March. The 2017 International Women’s Day campaign theme, “Be Bold For Change”, heralds a call for us all to be agents of change, to create a more inclusive society, where women and girls are empowered to achieve their full potential.
On this occasion, let me place on record at the outset, my heartfelt appreciation for the work of the women in the Jamaican Foreign Service, comprising 75% of the Ministry’s workforce. These women continue to blaze a trail of excellence at home and abroad. I also salute the courageous spirit of all our women and their contribution to national growth and development.
While we commend the noteworthy actions at the international level, such as the adoption of the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Beijing Platform for Action which aim to remove obstacles to women’s active participation, overall progress in women’s advancement has been unsatisfactory at the global level. Jamaica is therefore heartened by the United Nations initiative, “Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030”, which promotes the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, particularly Goal 5, to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.
I am particularly saddened that so many of our women and girls continue to be victims of gender-based violence, as well as the scourge of human trafficking. International Women’s Day therefore provides us with the opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to eliminate violence against our women and girls and to contribute to their development. Given the measures being spearheaded by the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport including the establishment of shelters for victims of domestic violence and review of legislation relating to violence against women currently underway, I am confident that Jamaica will succeed in the fight to ensure that every woman and girl can thrive and realise her dreams. The concert this evening at Emancipation Park will serve, hopefully, as an avenue for solidarity among our women.
Let us therefore, be ‘bold in action to effect change’ for the attainment of gender equality in all spheres of our society.

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