Measure growth not only by balance sheet - PM
McPherse Thompson, Assistant Business Editor
The Government is working towards building an economic system that measures growth not only by a healthy balance sheet, but by the generation of decent work with pay equity, Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller said.
She said the Government was committed to gender equity and has put in place policies and legislation that foster greater participation of women in the country's economic life.
However, with research showing that companies with the highest number of women in senior management positions have a 35 per cent greater return on equity and a 34 per cent higher return to shareholders, the Prime Minister said, "this demonstrates that the task of accelerating economic empowerment for women is not a challenge to be addressed by government alone".
Noting that women were still under-represented as leaders within the private sector, particularly at the chief executive officer level and in the boardroom, Simpson Miller said: "I agree that a woman's place is in the house," but quickly added, "the Houses of Parliament. We are working to ensure that more women make it to both Houses of Parliament."
Simpson Miller was addressing a seminar organised by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) at the Jamaica Conference Centre, downtown Kingston, yesterday under the theme, 'Women, work and the Jamaican Economy'.
IMF Mission Chief Dr Jan Kees Martijn, in opening the seminar, indicated that strengthening the role of women in the economy has become an increasingly integral part of the work of the Fund and is a matter close to the heart of IMF managing director, Christine Lagarde.
Simpson Miller said, that "at the national level we are working to systematically expose and correct gender disparities and inequality".
At the forefront of those efforts, she said, is a realisation that the economic empowerment of women is a prerequisite for sustainable development, pro-poor growth and the achievement of the millennium development goals.
In addition, gender equality and empowerment are catalysts for multiplying development efforts, and investments in gender equality yield the highest returns on all development investments.
changing the rules
"The rules must change to support women who are primary breadwinners and primary caregivers at the same time," the prime minister said.
She pointed to findings of the 2013 labour force survey which indicated that 62.3 per cent of all employed women were in low-waged jobs, including domestic work within private households, hotel and restaurant servers and housekeepers, and the wholesale and retail sector.
The perceived devaluation of the woman and all her outputs, including the ability to bring life, has, over time, become a deterrent to economic progress for them. "Progress is about the quality of people's lives," said Simpson Miller.
"Freedom of choice in occupation and economic independence - for both men and women - are central pillars of the progress that we seek," the prime minister said.
"I am working assiduously towards building an economic system that measures growth not only by a healthy balance sheet," she said. "Growth must also be measured by the generation of decent work with pay equity and resource mobilisation to fund investments in public infrastructure and social services," she added.
"We challenge our employers to become knowledgeable about the pay gap and take action to redress it," Simpson Miller said.
"We challenge our educators to make girls aware of careers that offer higher pay and make sure that our girls are exposed to science and technology school-based activities. We encourage our human resource professionals to support the advancement of deserving, hard-working women," the prime minister said.
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