Yesterday I was in the presence of some of the country’s most powerful women to commemorate International Women’s Day. As the movie Miss Representation did for me one year prior, it was an eye opening experience.
At the launch of the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Publication Where are the Women: A Jamaican Case Study, I was honoured to share in the discussion on the importance and necessity of women in the political arena as well as our importance to sustainable development. The report focused on Gender Studies, Women, Politics, Parliaments and Equality in CARICOM countries. It was a social instrument in the United Nation’s effort to combat inequality practices through providing an open and honest forum for discussion to plot the way forward. This year’s theme was #PledgeForParity, urging women worldwide to campaign for women’s “effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision making in political, economic and public life” (UN Women, 2016)
Photo Credit (UNWomen.org)
Some of the data was startling. Others..not so much. It’s not really a surprise that the political culture hampers the effectiveness of women as instruments for political empowerment, or that political parties often indulge in rhetoric regarding gender equality but shirk the actual issue. I could go on…but that’s a whole other post.
Photo Credit (UNWomen.org)
What impressed me immensely at the occasion was that I sensed no inflated ego. Whether these women were on the panel for discussion, or simply participating as an audience member, each had an air of sophistication and grace. There appeared to be a genuine interest in advancing the rights of women. I admit that this was refreshing as opposed to the pervasive truculent atmosphere I had regrettably become accustomed to in a room full of females. This was different. These women knew what they were about, shared their trials, triumphs, and wanted to facilitate a smoother path for young women. These women were empowered.
It is my fervent belief that women of all ages can be empowered despite mitigating odds. So what exactly does it mean to be an empowered woman? That is something each young girl needs to ask themselves, and needs to keep asking until they have embodied that definition. Therefore I leave you with this piece of sage advice by Janis Joplin that has been one of my personal mantras for years (even before I knew she said it…but you know…she’s famous). On another note, I implore you to do your research and take action for gender parity. It’s not just a girl or boy thing….but an everybody thing.
Photo Credit: http://www.quotesvalley.com
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