JIS News

Story Highlights

  • The average share of women in Parliaments globally stood at only 20.4 per cent, a far cry from the 40 per cent ideal, advocated by the MDGs.
  • Mrs. Simpson Miller argued that if women are not at the decision-making table, their long-term impact is negligible.
  • The Prime Minister informed that in Jamaica, significant strides have been made over the years in improving the status and involvement of women.

Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, has joined the call of global leaders for more women to become political leaders.

Mrs. Simpson Miller noted that as of January 2013, the average share of women in Parliaments globally stood at only 20.4 per cent, a far cry from the 40 per cent ideal, advocated by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for women’s roles and rights to be considered as decision makers in the formal economy and development.

The Prime Minister was delivering the keynote address at the opening of the Women In Parliament Global Forum, held in the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, on November 27.

Mrs. Simpson Miller argued that if women are not at the decision-making table, their long-term impact is negligible, so the first task therefore, is to get more women to the table.

Addressing the women leaders in the Parliament, she emphasized that in the midst of a global financial crisis, “we must avoid some of the traditional mistakes of political leadership.” She reiterated that it is important to balance the books while balancing people’s lives.

The Prime Minister informed that in Jamaica, significant strides have been made over the years in improving the status and involvement of women in all spheres, including economic and political empowerment.

She further noted that through successive policies over decades, many injustices and inequities faced by women have also been addressed.

“As Jamaica’s first female Prime Minister, I see myself as opening a door, smashing that proverbial glass ceiling in order to let many of my younger sisters through,” she said.

The Prime Minister pointed out that Jamaica can proudly showcase women in key leadership positions, such as the Chief Justice of Jamaica, the Director of Public Prosecutions, in the education and health sectors as well as in business.

She also honoured the women before, such as Dame Eugenia Charles (former late Prime Minister of Dominica), who blazed the trail, “often at great personal cost, to create a world in which female political leadership would not continue to be an exception but a valid expectation.”

Mrs. Simpson Miller, using the words of poet, Jean Small, ‘No More Smalling Up of Me’, urged the women, some of whom still had no female representation in their Parliaments, to be courageous and strong in their endeavours.

Also addressing the Parliament were Liberia’s President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf; Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma; Vice Presidents of the European Parliament, Roberta Angelilli, Isabelle Durante, and Anni Podimata.

The summit was held on November 27 to mark the milestone 120 years ago when the women in New Zealand became the first to vote in an election.

Among the issues discussed were: ‘Re-shaping society through female leadership’; ‘Be the change you wish to see in the world’; ‘The mother of all female empowerment: peace, security and the integrity of the person’; ‘All men are created equal, so are women. Bridging societal gap’, among others.