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Press Release: IMF, Jamaica’s Government, and Civil Society Groups Stress Importance of Women Participation in the Economy

Press Release No. 14/451 September 30, 2014

The International Monetary Fund, the Jamaican government and civil society groups today highlighted the importance of empowering women and reducing gender inequality at the seminar, “Women, Work, and the Jamaican Economy,” which took place at the Jamaica Conference Center in Kingston.

Addressing participants during the opening of the seminar, the Prime Minister, the Most Honorable Portia Simpson-Miller emphasized her administration’s commitment to macroeconomic policies, economic regulation and employment policies that promote inclusive growth and prevent discrimination against women. She added that at the national level Jamaica was working to systematically correct gender disparities and inequity. “The rules must change to support women who are primary breadwinners and primary caregivers at the same time,” she said.

The seminar brought together more than one hundred representatives from government, the private sector, and civil society in Jamaica to have a dialogue on the macroeconomic gains from increased participation of women in the labor force. The IMF’s Deputy Director in the Strategy, Policy, and Review Department, Kalpana Kochhar, presented the conclusions of the IMF research, “Women, Work, and the Economy: Macroeconomic Gains from Gender Equity,” which examined the macro-critical features of women’s participation in the labor market, the constraints preventing them from developing their full economic potential, and policies that can create a level playing field.

Other speakers included the Director of the Center for Gender and Development Studies at the University of the West Indies, Dr. Leith Dunn, who spoke on the role of women in the Jamaican workforce, and Dr. Mariama Williams of the South Centre in Geneva, who spoke on gender equity and women’s empowerment. The discussions were moderated by Therese Turner-Jones, Country Representative of the Inter-American Development Bank (AIDB) in Jamaica.

In concluding the seminar, Mrs. Turner-Jones said “today indeed was a breakthrough and unique experience to bring together women and men from across the public and private spheres to discuss and exchange views on the role of women in Jamaica’s economy. The platform as well as the presentations by the international and local experts allowed for a rich debate on the issues and raised many questions about how gender can be mainstreamed in Jamaica’s macroeconomic policy making.”