International Women’s Day 2018 in Jamaica: Time Is Now

Thursday, March 8 is International Women’s Day, 2018. The theme is a great one: Time Is Now: Rural and Urban Activists Transforming Women’s Lives. I am going to celebrate some Jamaican women here now, a little ahead of time. There are many more whom I admire. These are just a few… I am just using a few words to describe the essence of each of these awesome women. I will continue to highlight the life and work of many throughout the year… of course, as always. This post is dedicated to all the women of Jamaica.

DJ Afifa Aza is creative, eccentric, passionate, a lover of music and words. Her e-collection of notes and poetry, Nothing Matters, is on Smashwords. You can read an interview with her here and listen to @Zanjradio online.

Dr. Anne C. Bailey is much more than an academic. She has a more intimate approach to African American history than many, connecting people from the past with people in the present. She has a new book, just published by Cambridge University Press, called The Weeping Time. Read more about her here.

Imani Duncan-Price is a “political animal,”  no doubt about that. She is also Jamaica’s latest Eisenhower Fellow – joining a select group, who nominated her – including 2000 Fellow Sandra Glasgow. Congratulations, Imani! Break a leg!

Keisha Hayle is a political woman too, having just conducted a decent campaign in North West St. Andrew. She is also a committed educator of remarkable determination, as Principal of Padmore Primary School in St. Andrew. In 2015, I wrote about her vision here.

Deedra Harris lives in Naggo Head, St. Catherine. She cares deeply about her community and is determined to see it do better. If she has anything to do with it, Naggo Head will rise above its challenges, which are many. There are great women like this in every community: supportive, hard-working, always ready to step up to the plate.

Una May Gordon heads the Climate Change Division in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation. She’s in pretty much a man’s world, surrounded by nerdy scientists and technocrats, but that doesn’t bother her one bit. She is breezing through, and keeping her sense of humour intact.

Paula-Anne Porter Jones  has a rich, warm voice and a great smile. She is a super-confident radio host and public speaker, and the author of Sandy, Tosh and the Moo Cow (soon to be published by Blue Banyan Books). She’s also an avid bird watcher, scuba diver and nature lover.

Shahine Robinson is also a woman in politics. The Minister of Labour and Social Security tweeted during yesterday’s by-election: “I respect Keisha Hayle, being a female, putting herself up for representation in Parliament. It is not easy being a woman in politics. Takes a lot of sacrifice. She’s an otherwise dedicated Jamaican serving her country in the education sector.” But then in true politician style, she added that Dr. Nigel Clarke was the better candidate!

Nikeisha Sewell Lewis keeps on doing good, working for others (young, old, men, women) every day as CEO of the Women’s Resource and Outreach Centre (WROC) – which actually celebrates its 35th anniversary on International Women’s Day. Cue for celebration!

Shakera Sharpe is a serious young woman, living in Montego Bay. She describes herself as “Passionate,driven,vivacious. Advocate. Jesus Ambassador. World changer.” A member of the Jamaica Network of Rural Women Producers, she has been chosen as a member of the global 2018 Class of Young Leaders by Women Deliver.

Dr. Elizabeth Ward: Today is Peace Day in Jamaica. Dr. Ward is “likkle but tallawah” and works tremendously hard across all sectors as head of the Violence Prevention Alliance.

Kudos to the dynamic young women of St. Hugh’s High School Positive Society. Young volunteers with a mission!

Footnote: Did you know that the U.S. Embassy has a Women’s History Month 2018 Grants Program? Three grants of up to US$20,000.00 will be awarded to promote the empowerment of women and girls in Jamaica to: Eligible Individuals (alumni of US Government funded professional and educational exchange programs), Community Based Organizations (CBOs) and Non-Government Organizations (NGOs). Submit project abstracts for causes that affect girls or women in the categories of Education, Mentorship, Economic Sustainability and Social Responsibility. Read more here.

On a sad note:

In memory of all the women who have been murdered so far this year. I have counted 23 over the past sixty days, but it could be more. They were vendors and businesswomen, retirees and students, mothers, daughters and…children.

Odette Anderson, 6

Joy Blake

Julia Carty, 59

Tianna Clarke, 14

Simone Collymore, 32

Kimberly Crawford, 19

Petrena Edwards, 45

Lois Ferguson, 54

Etha Flake, 70

Cleopatra Fletcher, 41

Caroline Ford

Avinash Gordon, 18

Eugenie James, 74

Jaulet Jeffrey, 34

Zoe King, 40 (and her unborn child)

Kelesia Matthews, 3

Marcia McKenzie,  52

Lisa McLaughlin, 30

Hyacinth Miller,  54

Petrice Porteous, 21

Dawnette Shettleworth, 52

Annette Smith, 48

Maurine Smith, 45





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