#BudgetDebate: Portia champions women’s empowerment in final Parliament speech

Thursday, March 16, 2017

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — Portia Simpson Miller, who made her contribution to the 2017/18 budget debate today, urged more women to become involved in politics as she urged Parliament to do more to protect them.

Simpson Miller, who has dedicated 43 years as a politician and became Jamaica’s first female prime minister in 2006, stated that she looks forward to the day when more women will become engaged in the political process.

"Women can, and have been making a difference in moving forward. However, I am aware that women will face challenges to their socio-economic well-being and political process,” she said, highlighting politics as a traditionally male dominated arena.

 She also noted that because of this, women have had to work three times as hard as men to get the same recognition.

“We have to stop it. Women… just look at me, when they joke with me, I deal with dem case,” Simpson Miller boasted.

Simpson Miller further stated that since independence, the administration she led has had the most women in Cabinet and in the Senate.

She however noted that there is more that can be done.

Every society should enact legislation for the protection and welfare of women, Simpson Miller stated, while reflecting on the work done in Parliament to ensure the protection of women and their rights with the Equal Pay Act passed in1975, to the Minimum Wage Act and then the Maternity Leave Act passed in 1979.

She urged the Parliament to further enhance women's protection by passing the Sexual Harassment Bill to provide a framework for addressing the issue in the workplace and institutions.

Simpson Miller’s speech today was her final address to Parliament in the role of Opposition leader. She will hand over leadership of the People’s National Party to Dr Peter Phillips when she retires on April 2.

Moya Hinds

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