Unsung Female Heroes Take the Spotlight


This International Women’s Day, the theme: ‘Women Celebrate: Voices of the Unsung’ will turn the spotlight on the thousands of women who have contributed to Jamaica’s development in all spheres of life, but who remain unsung heroes.
Speaking to JIS News, Dr. Glenda Simms, Executive Director, Bureau of Women’s Affairs, said that on March 8 the contribution of Jamaican women would be celebrated with special focus on Zelma Simms, a businesswoman. In addition, the work of the Trelawny Parish Advisory Committee for Women’s Affairs will be highlighted.
Miss Simms who resides in Leeds, St. Elizabeth, was taught bammy making through a project implemented by the Bureau many years ago, explained Dr. Simms. Using the skills learnt, she started her own business, which is doing very well.
A support group for the Bureau, the Trelawny Parish Advisory Committee consists of volunteers who assist the girls’ homes, senior citizens’ homes and infirmaries in the parish. The committee also has fund-raising activities, which provide scholarships for needy female students.
Dr. Simms cited the need for financial independence through economic development as a major concern for Jamaican women.
“One of the reasons we pay attention to women who are creating their own economy at the grass roots level is that if women are financially independent they are less likely to be the victims of violence,” Dr. Simms emphasized.
“Women are less likely to be abused because they will make decisions about their own lives leading to their liberation,” the Executive Director concluded.
She said that poverty should be tackled by creating economies at the community level so that women could have a solid and sustainable financial base.
On International Women’s Day, the major event will be an awards ceremony to be held at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel beginning at 8.30 a.m. under the patronage of Her Excellency the Most Honourable Lady Cooke. Dr. Paul Robertson, Minister of Development with responsibility for gender affairs, will give the main address.
The Bureau was established in 1975 and currently operates under the auspices of the Office of the Prime Minister out of the Development Division. Its primary focus is the planning and drafting of legislation that address gender issues leading to the empowerment of Jamaican women.
March 8 was officially recognized as International Women’s Day in all countries in October 1975 at a World Congress for International Women’s Year in Berlin, Germany. International Women’s Day was first celebrated in Jamaica in 1978.
The celebration of International Women’s Day marks an increasing recognition of the struggles of women against all forms of exploitation; for equality; for national liberation and for democracy and peace in all countries.

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