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Marks urges Ivanka to extend US$500m initiative to Caribbean women

Published:Saturday | September 1, 2018 | 12:00 AMDerrick A. Scott
Jamaica’s Ambassador to the United States and Chair of the Caribbean Caucus of Ambassadors, Audrey Marks (left), shares a lmoment with special adviser to US President, Ivanka Trump Kushner, last Tuesday.

Jamaica's Ambassador to the United States and chair of the Caribbean Caucus of Ambassadors, Audrey Marks, has approached White House special adviser to the US president, Ivanka Trump Kushner, seeking support to expand the Overseas Private Investment Corporation's 2X (OPIC2X) Americas Latin America Women's Initiative to the Caribbean countries.

Trump Kushner launched the OPIC2X Americas Initiative in April of this year, to mobilise US$500 million in private capital to invest in projects that empower women in Latin America.

That launch took place during the third CEO Summit of the Americas, on the margins of the larger eighth Summit of the Americas of the heads of state and government of the Americas in Lima, Peru.

Relating to the US presidential adviser how much of a boost such a programme would give to Caribbean efforts to continue empowerment of the region's women, Marks described the project as a very worthy and timely initiative to be promoted throughout the Caribbean region with a population of more than 40 million persons, of which 50 per cent are women.

Marks stressed how the Caribbean region has made significant strides in gender equality and equity and in empowering women, having elected five female prime ministers, including former Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller and the recently elected Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Mottley.

She took the opportunity to also explain that as the widely touted "US Third Border," the Caribbean was deemed a very important partner on a wide range of issues but, regrettably, had been ignored for many years.

The ambassador argued that launching the proposed OPIC2X programme in the region would serve to "further strengthen our cooperation in gender empowerment and equality and make a greater difference in overall Caribbean-US relationship".

Marks made the case to Trump Kushner during a conversation between the two, before she addressed a forum at the Organisation of American States (OAS) Inter-American Council for Integral Development (CIDI) last Tuesday.

In her address to the OAS forum, Trump Kushner argued that the world and the hemisphere would be more prosperous and at peace if women were more able to fully participate in the global economy.

She noted that although women represented an untapped resource for accelerating growth, they still faced obstacles like limited access to markets and capital as well as legal and cultural barriers in their own countries.