Prime Minister, the Most. Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, says there must be a rights-based approach to realistically shape global policy into action, particularly as it relates to children, persons with disabilities, the elderly, and women, all of whom are the most marginalised and vulnerable in society.

She said specific attention must be paid to addressing those fundamental, yet sensitive human rights issues which affect the reproductive rights of women as mothers and potential child-bearers, as well as partners. “We must address them without the fear of controversy,” she said.

The Prime Minister was speaking at a Women Leader Forum, at the United Nations Conference On Sustainable Development (Rio+20), in Rio de Janiero, Brazil, on June 21.

Mrs. Simpson Miller  pointed out that far too many women and girls have not been empowered to escape the impact of abject poverty; the degradation of the social and physical environment; the continuing dehumanising forces of violence against women and girls; the effect of wars and civil unrest; the impact of the HIV pandemic; and the lack of control over their reproductive rights and reproductive health. 

Meanwhile, she stressed that gender inequity and inequality continue to prevail globally. “This, in itself, is a deterrent to sustainable development. It is important that women participate fully in decision making at all levels, if sustainable development is to be achieved,” she said.

The Prime Minister noted that female leaders are acutely aware that considerations of, and for issues concerning women and girls are often relegated to the periphery of negotiations and discussions, if included at all.

“I am firmly committed that when women lead, we must do so with determination, with courage, with a focus on the greater good and with a sense of destiny and urgency. We must insist that pragmatic gender considerations are included in the deliberations on sustainable development strategies,” she asserted.

The theme of the forum was: ‘The future women want’.


By Alphea Saunders, JIS Senior Reporter

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