Krysta Anderson, Lifestyle Reporter
Last Saturday (June 28), Scotiabank hosted an exclusive breakfast meeting with International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director, Madame Christine Lagarde and local women leaders at the Terra Nova All Suite Hotel. It included 15 women from various sectors - political, private and academia.
They actively engaged in an open and frank discussion on relevant issues such as teenage pregnancy and empowering women, specifically in obtaining higher paying jobs. Lagarde addressed matters of gender inequality among women, reflecting on the challenges she faced as a woman throughout her career.
Senator Kamina Johnson-Smith, who presented at the meeting, brought the issues of teenage pregnancy, teen mothers, domestic violence and the reduction of the employment gap as it pertained to women within the labour force. Relating these issues to economic and financial needs, she highlighted that teen mothers, ranging from 10 to 19 years old, are falling through the cracks because of the lack of facilities to advance their circumstances from a practical sense, such as having safe childcare facilities. This, in turn, is a contributing factor to women being outside of the work world more than men.
As it pertains to domestic violence, Johnson-Smith suggested that an alternative - safe houses for them and their children, be provided as well. Households headed by mothers account for 45 per cent of all households in Jamaica, and they have tough choices to make in remaining or joining the labour force. If national childcare facilities existed, then a choice may no longer be necessary. "IMF may not be the Government, but they have a hand in the policies that are approved. Madame Lagarde took notes on the issues as presented, so one believes they were of interest to her.
"The meeting was wonderful, well organised, well managed and relaxed. The women in attendance have done so much so it was very inspiring to be among them," Johnson-Smith told Flair.
President and CEO of Scotia Group, Jacqueline Sharp was indeed honoured to have hosted such a groundbreaking initiative. "It was an exciting morning based on the vibrant dialogue regarding the issues that face women in Jamaica. It is our intention to continue these discussions to ensure we remain focused on gender equality and thus further economic development."