?MESSAGE FROM THE HONOURABLE BRUCE GOLDING, PRIME MINISTER OF JAMAICA ON COMMONWEALTH DAY, MARCH 14, 2011
The theme for this year's Commonwealth Day, "Women as agents of change" reinforces the critical and fundamental role that women and girls – who make up more than half of the world's population – play in societies. It is also an acknowledgement of the importance of women to nation-building. Women who are supported and empowered not only improve the well-being of their own families, but, also the stability of their communities and countries.
It is fitting that the Commonwealth – the only international organization outside of the United Nations with the global reach to tackle socio-economic development issues – should seek to highlight the positive contribution of women in all aspects of national life. Tremendous gains have been made under the Commonwealth Plan of Action for Gender Equality 2005-2015 which seeks to reinforce the important relationship between gender and issues such as poverty eradication, economic empowerment, human rights and democracy. The Plan is an important testimony to the commitment of the Organisation to advancing equality within the decade.
Despite the challenges that persist, women have been able to make significant strides in the economic, social and political fields. We in Jamaica can be justifiably proud of the advances and achievement of women. Jamaican women are to be found in every sphere of the economic, social and political life of the country.
Women represent over sixty percent of those employed in the public sector and are the majority of those employed as professional, senior officials and technicians. Several women currently occupy influential positions in the public service, including the posts of Chief Personnel Officer, Accountant General, Auditor General, Administrator General and Chief Medical Officer. Statistics reveal that at the primary and secondary levels, girls graduate at approximately the same levels as boys. At the tertiary level, Jamaican women matriculate and graduate at higher rates than men. Women are free to secure vocational training in fields they choose.
The achievements realised to date offer no room for complacency. Women remain vulnerable to exploitation, violence and stereotyping.
In this context, I wish to stress the Government's commitment to supporting women as change agents. Through national frameworks such as Vision 2030 and the recently launched National Policy on Gender Equality, the Government is determined to fulfil its obligations in promoting and advancing the rights of women. I take this opportunity to commend the Bureau of Women's Affairs and the countless women's non-governmental organisations for their support in this regard.
I call on all of us to commit to promoting gender equality and to promoting the rights and dignity of women so that they can continue to realize their full potential.