The Hon. Olivia “Babsy” Grange Rang the Bell for Gender Equality at the    JSE/UN Women International Women’s Day Celebration

March 8, 2023, was celebrated as International Women’s Day (IWD). The Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE) along with the UN Women took time out to ‘Ring the Bell’ in recognition of women internationally and especially honouring all Jamaican and Caribbean women. In 2022, IWD was celebrated under the theme ‘Gender Equality Today for a Sustainable Tomorrow’.  This year the celebration continued for equality under the theme, “DigitAll: Innovation and Technology for Gender Equality”

Dr. Marlene Street Forrest, Managing Director of the JSE, speaking at this event stated, “The theme recognizes that while the beginning of the digital age (3rd revolution), the disposition of the revolution was more skewed to male. In contrast the movement into the 4th Revolution where lives become more rearranged around digital gadgets, computer, robots and the use of Artificial Intelligence with some jobs are put at risk, resulting in the displacement more on women and girls. Jobs such as call centers and secretarial or administrative assistants are being replaced by digitally programmed devices. Consequently, the Digital Age while it provides numerous positive outcomes, it must be managed properly so that the shifts which are already here, in employments and skills, do not further increase gender inequality.”

Ms. Tonni-Ann Brodber, Representative, UN Women Multi Country Office – Caribbean, told the audience, “I am not sure how many of you are aware in 2022 that UN Women, Sustainable Stock Exchanges and the IFC did a publication on how stock exchanges can advance gender equality. Inputs were made by 71 experts from 52 organizations across 32 countries, making what is called the informal Stock Exchange Gender Equality Group and the Chair of this Group is our own Dr. Marlene Street Forrest, Managing Director of the JSE.  I want to thank Dr. Marlene Street Forrest and Tahjmani Rose who led from the forefront in the Caribbean and showed Caribbean leadership. When we see this type of leadership, we in the Caribbean know we are in good hands.”

“At Flow, we’re guided by our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Policy, which promotes diversity and inclusion at all levels of the organization, across all teams and locations. As of April 1, this year, all new employees will be able to benefit from maternity or paternity leave from their first day, that is from day one of their employment with us. Their maternity and paternity leave is of course in keeping with our Parental Leave Policy launched on June 1, 2019, which provides 16 weeks paid maternity leave to the birthing parent and 8 weeks paid paternity. Currently, there are 81 women employed in our Technical Operations Department. At present, our Senior Leadership Team comprises 50% women. Across our Liberty Latin America (LLA) organization, the development of our female leaders below the Senior Leadership level as well as emerging leaders under 35 years of age, continues to be a major focus of our People Team. Today, we are happy to announce that LLA has further demonstrated its commitment to improving the welfare of our female employees by improving the parental leave benefit beyond statutory law.” Senior Director, Marketing, Flow, Miss Sara Martins de Oliveira discloses, speaking at the International Women’s Day celebration.

The Hon. Olivia “Babsy” Grange speaking at the event, stated, “As we join the world to ‘Ring the Bell for Gender Equality’, I want to point out that the Jamaica Stock Exchange and my Ministry share similar objectives, shining a light on the critical role that business and markets play in tackling gender inequalities.

“These include, but are not limited to:

  • A focus on advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment in the workplace, marketplace, and community.
  • Encouraging adoption and implementation of the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs).
  • Highlighting the importance of building a pipeline of women’s leadership talent.
  • Promoting gender inclusion and women’s full and effective leadership in all aspects of society.
  • Raising awareness about the Stand-Alone, Gender Transformational Goal 5 of the SDGs which promotes the achievement of gender equality for all women and girls.
  • Implementing the recommendations of the National Policy for Gender Equality, concerning gender quotas for women in leadership.

“I want to commend the exceptional leadership of the Managing Director of the Jamaica Stock Exchange, Dr. Marlene Street Forrest. She is a clear demonstration of the strength and resilience of our women in the business sector.”

This year the JSE hosted a panel discussion based on the theme, which discussed “DigitalAll : Innovation and Technology for Gender Equality – Women Breaking the Glass Ceiling: Achieving the Impossible”. There were four panellists; Rear Admiral Antonette Wemyss Gorman – Chief of Defence Staff, JDF; Mrs. Chorvelle Johnson-Cunningham – CEO of Sagicor Bank; Miss Carol Robertson – Senior Business Development Partner, B2B Enterprise Sales; C&W Business and Mrs Imani Duncan-Price, Caribbean Coordinator, International Domestic Workers Federation (IDWF) and Consultant to UN Women.

According to Rear Admiral Antonette Wemyss Gorman – Chief of Defence Staff, JDF, “We have a gender optimization policy in the Force now. This guides us on how we develop our training, our infrastructure, and my role as CDS is to ensure that we achieve this. We serve both populations of women and men, and it is interesting the diversity of views that we get which allow us to have different perspectives on different ideas.”

“I don’t see life as simply challenges or mistakes, but as an opportunity to learn and grow. What are these challenges teaching us? What areas in our life need to grow why we come upon these circumstances in life? If we approach life in this way we will always be growing,” stated Mrs Chorvelle Johnson-Cunningham, CEO of Sagicor Bank, during the discussion.

On looking at the fact that Artificial Intelligence is taking over, Mrs Imani Duncan-Price – Caribbean Coordinator, International Domestic Workers Federation (IDWF) and Consultant, UN Women, stated that there are certain areas that machines will do well, especially in surgery. However, she stated that in the areas of care, sports and music, if we look at these areas and build industries around these, we need not fear what AI can do.

Miss Carol Robertson – Senior Business Development Partner, B2B Enterprise Sales, C&W Business implored young ladies of the need to incorporate technology in their studies as they are going to use it in their working life. “This is because you are either going to be a developer of that technology or a user of that technology, therefore, either way, it is important to ensure that you know about technology. In today’s world, you cannot avoid technology, therefore, the best way is to incorporate it into your life.”