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  • Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, is advocating an integrated and united approach by the society to curb the incidence of crimes committed against women and children.
  • She was a addressing a cocktail reception at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, New Kingston, on Friday (March 7) commemorating the 40th Anniversary of the Bureau of Women’s Affairs (BWA), and International Women’s Day, being observed today (March 8).
  • The Prime Minister said, in retrospect, when the right to vote was moved to age 18, the age of consent should have been similarly changed, noting that “too many of our children are being abused (and) too many of our girls are treated as if they are big women.”

Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, is advocating an integrated and united approach by the society to curb the incidence of crimes committed against women and children.

“Change of mindset, values, education, a shift in cultural norms, and parenting support are necessary to complement the laws, policies and structures which are designed to shape a peaceful and just society,“ Mrs. Simpson said, while expressing concern over the level of crimes committed against women and children.

She was a addressing a cocktail reception at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, New Kingston, on Friday (March 7) commemorating the 40th Anniversary of the Bureau of Women’s Affairs (BWA), and International Women’s Day, being observed today (March 8).

The Prime Minister said, in retrospect, when the right to vote was moved to age 18, the age of consent should have been similarly changed, noting that “too many of our children are being abused (and) too many of our girls are treated as if they are big women.”

In this regard, Mrs. Simpson Miller praised the BWA for its work over the last 40 years to educate and empower women, particularly those deemed the society’s most vulnerable.

She also paid special tribute to the agency’s outstanding leaders, including Beverley Manley Duncan, whom she said, used her position as the wife of late former Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Michael Manley, during the 1970s, to mobilize women across Jamaica, and advocate safeguarding  of their welfare.

“The role of the Bureau is more than a catalytic one…(it also entails) influencing, promoting, monitoring, and guiding the steps to enable Jamaican women to achieve their full potential. This role includes ensuring that the fundamental rights and freedoms of women are respected and preserved in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and is also a vital necessity for the effective participation of all our citizens in the social, cultural, spiritual, and economic life of our country,” said Mrs. Simpson Miller.

She encouraged the Bureau to continue its work and contribution to building the society where “our children will be able to live in peace and showered with love.”

“We must, therefore, reposition ourselves and strengthen our resolve to move into a period of change that will make a difference in the life chances of all women, men, and children of our Jamaican nation,” the Prime Minister urged.

She also acknowledged the leadership given by women serving through several non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and others who have been exemplars of civil society, and thanked them for working with the political directorate to effect change.

“I am convinced that these women leaders have contributed, not only to the dynamic changes that have taken place in the status of women in the Jamaican society, but they have also experienced dramatic changes in their own lives,” she stated.

Mrs. Simpson Miller also underscored the significant leadership that Jamaica has been providing on issues of women’s affairs, noting that over the past 40 years “the Jamaican national machinery for women has made significant impact locally, regionally, and globally.”

She noted, however, that Friday’s celebrations were not solely about recalling and outlining the numerous successes and achievements of Jamaica’s women over the past 40 years, but a time to “recommit to the unfinished business of our times.”

Minister with responsibility for Information in the Office of the Prime Minister, Senator the Hon. Sandrea Falconer, said the theme for this year’s observance of International Women’s Day – ‘Equality for women is progress for all: Inspiring Change,’ represents a pledge to which everyone must commit to upholding.

“Tonight we must remind ourselves of the history of struggle and the journey travelled in overcoming systemic and other barriers which our women have faced. We gather, also, to celebrate our accomplishments and to recommit ourselves to frameworks, to chart the way for future successes,” she said.

Senator Falconer noted that through the Bureau of Women’s Affairs and several collaborating agencies, many barriers have been broken, with equality within diverse entities being manifestly evident. She added that there is still more to be done, especially in the area of eliminating violence against women, and accommodating more women in representational politics,  and at the leadership level in the society.

Minister Falconer also acknowledged milestone celebrations of several women’s groups including the Women’s Resource and Outreach Centre, which is marking 31 years; Woman Inc., celebrating 30 years; and the Institute of Gender and Development Studies – 20 years.

The Bureau of Women’s Affairs presented 19 grants of up to $200,000 to community-based organisations across the island, during Friday’s reception.

This gesture sought to initiate and enhance activities undertaken at the community level, with the aim of assisting to provide an enabling environment geared towards gender equality.