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  • Minister of State in the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Sharon Ffolkes Abrahams, says increasing the engagement of women in the workforce will boost productivity and have a positive impact on economic growth.
  • The State Minister was addressing Monday’s (April 13) opening of the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Women in Maritime Affairs Conference, at the Holiday Inn Sunspree Resort in Montego Bay.
  • The State Minister welcomed the staging of the five-day conference, which aims to deepen the integration of Caribbean women in the maritime sector through the establishment of a Caribbean Women in Maritime Association (WiMA).

Minister of State in the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Sharon Ffolkes Abrahams, says increasing the engagement of women in the workforce will boost productivity and have a positive impact on economic growth.

“When more women work, economies grow. Therefore, an increase in female labour force participation – a reduction in the gap between women and men labour force participation, will result in faster economic growth,” she contended.

The State Minister was addressing Monday’s (April 13) opening of the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Women in Maritime Affairs Conference, at the Holiday Inn Sunspree Resort in Montego Bay.

Arguing that gender bias impacts negatively on women’s pay levels and career mobility, she said studies have shown that women could increase their income globally by up to 76 per cent, if the employment participation and wage gap between women and men were closed.  This gap, she argued, is calculated to have a global value of US$17 trillion.

The State Minister welcomed the staging of the five-day conference, which aims to deepen the integration of Caribbean women in the maritime sector through the establishment of a Caribbean Women in Maritime Association (WiMA).

She noted that the maritime industry is not the only area of concern, as gender inequalities exist in all sectors.  “In fact, this is not just gender bias, but a form of discrimination that has become acceptable to many in the industry … by uniting we can break down these walls,” she said.

She described the establishment of the WiMA for the Caribbean as timely and appropriate, “especially so within the context of the Panama Canal expansion and Jamaica’s thrust towards becoming a global logistics hub.”

She noted that the move to establish special economic zones across the Jamaican working environment is a critical aspect of the Logistics Hub Initiative, which would mean greater empowerment of women in Jamaica.

“These economic zones could make it easier for companies to support gender-relevant initiatives, services and regulations, if operating within a zone with gender-friendly programmes in place.  The world is changing and the maritime sector must change with the rest of the world.  We want to see more women being trained and employed in non-traditional areas, not based on gender, but on ability,” the State Minister said.