• JIS News

    Story Highlights

    • There were hugs, laughter, and tears of joy after Elaine Duncan won this year’s inaugural GraceKennedy/Heather Little-White Household Worker of the Year award.
    • Miss Duncan topped the field of 11persons shortlisted from over 100 nominees for the award, which honours Jamaica’s finest and exemplary household workers.
    • Keynote speaker, Prime Minister the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, said the event was special, not only for the winners, but also for the wider population of household workers, whom she described as critical to Jamaica’s development.

    There were hugs, laughter, and tears of joy after Elaine Duncan won this year’s inaugural GraceKennedy/Heather Little-White Household Worker of the Year award.

    Miss Duncan topped the field of 11persons shortlisted from over 100 nominees for the award, which honours Jamaica’s finest and exemplary household workers.

    Second place went to Mervelyn Brown, while Edward McGowan, the only male in the final 11, finished third.

    All eleven workers were honored during special luncheon hosted by GraceKennedy Limited, at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, New Kingston, on Friday, May 30.

    Keynote speaker, Prime Minister the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, said the event was special, not only for the winners, but also for the wider population of household workers, whom she described as critical to Jamaica’s development.

    “The work you do is of importance to our nation. You allow many men and women to leave their homes, their children, their property, and their most personal lives in your trusted hands, while they attend to other areas of business and nation building,” she said.

    The Prime Minister noted that household workers are among the society’s most marginalized employees adding that, in many instances, little value is placed on their work and worth.

    She noted, however, that over the years, successive administrations have instituted measures to cushion and reduce the impact of some of the challenges household workers encounter. These, she pointed out, include introducing legislation, such as the Minimum Wage Act.

    Mrs. Simpson Miller said, as a profession, and in light of ongoing advocacy for gender equality, household work can and is no longer confined to women, although dominated by them. She said the profession now incorporates men whom, she contended, must be accorded respect.

    The Prime Minister commended GraceKennedy for recognizing household workers, and acknowledged the invaluable work of the late Dr. Heather Little-White, after whom the award is named.

    Elated winner, Elaine Duncan, thanked her employer for nominating her, as well as her family, and Jamaica Household Workers Union (JHWU) President, Shirley Pryce, for their support. She also thanked GraceKennedy and the Heather Little-White Foundation for giving recognition to Jamaican household workers.

    “I must say that I am very pleased and grateful, and happy and overwhelmed to be the number one helper in Jamaica,” she said to loud applause.

    In addition to winning the top trophy, Miss Duncan received $250,000; an account, opened in her name at First Global Bank, with $10,000; and a $50,000 Hi-Lo Food Stores gift certificate. She also gets to select a secondary school student whose tuition will be financed by GraceKennedy for one year.

    First runner-up, Mervelyn Brown, also received a trophy; $150,000; a $15,000 Hi-Lo gift certificate; and an account in her name with $10,000 from First Global.

    A trophy, $100,000, an account in his name, with $10,000, from First Global; and $10,000 Hi-Lo gift certificate was awarded to second runner-up, Edward McGowan.

    The other eight finalists each received $20,000 and certificates of appreciation.

    GraceKennedy’s Chief Executive Officer, Don Wehby, said the response to the competition surpassed the company’s expectations, and commended the judges on their selections.