Although Women’s Day was this past weekend, it’s still Women’s History Month; and according to Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange, Jamaica’s Opposition Spokesperson on Gender Affairs, “Jamaica must empower its women through employment opportunities and institutional support.”
Now all Jamaicans (and the entire planet’s population!) know how politicians can talk, and talk, and talk. And Ms. Grange isn’t wrong, in a very general sense. Employment opportunities and institutional support are great, generalized and stereotypically non-specific ideas for empowering women.
When it comes to specific strategies, goals, and planning, Jamaica’s politicians have a track record of being incapable of implementing infrastructure that empowers any Jamaican, moreover the women of Jamaica.
So ignoring my naive hope that someday our politicians will find some wisdom, vision, and a passionate consuming love for our country, it’s up to Jamaican women to empower ourselves.
We have a history of being resilient, determined, no-nonsense kind of women. We set our goals, and we reach them, despite what anyone would say or do to stop us. Have those qualities leached out of society? I doubt it. Jamaican women are strategic, in feeding their families, in their education, in business, and even in finding men!
It’s not our lack of ability or resources that limit us, it’s the way we think about who we are, and what we believe we can achieve.
I know what a Jamaican woman used to be, but right now a I don’t know who a Jamaican woman is. What are her defining characteristics? What makes her a woman? Is mainstream media in Jamaica highlighting images of women that empower other women across all age ranges? Yes there’s Tessanne, Yendi, but who else? Do we have mentoring programs where young girls see and are encouraged by living, breathing examples of powerful, beautiful and resilient women?
I don’t know the answer to all those questions. And maybe I need to be enlightened (*hinthint* reader comments!).
However, as Jamaican women, I really do believe we have to learn to re-see ourselves, as independent, capable and beautiful. We can’t afford to wait on the government – in case you haven’t realized, they don’t care! It’s up to us to empower ourselves. We must be the drivers of our own change, and pass a renewed vision of the beauty, strength and capability of Jamaican women amongst ourselves.
We already have the knowledge and the skill. The empowerment that we need begins in our minds.