Minna Israel has made Jamaica proud


Monday, October 30, 2017

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Last Friday, October 27, 2017, 10 outstanding women leaders strode onto the stage of the International Women's Forum's (IIWF) annual conference held in Houston, Texas, to be honoured at the IWF and Leadership Foundation Hall of Fame Awards Gala.

The leader who was inducted in the IWF Hall of Fame was former US Secretary of State and the first-ever woman US presidential candidate Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Jamaica's first woman Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller is also an IWF Hall of Famer.

The other nine were honoured as “women who make a difference”, and Jamaicans should be proud that among them was our own Minna Israel, recognised as the first Caribbean woman to be the country manager of a major bank and a leader in many other spheres of national life.

In 2011 Minna Israel was conferred with an honorary Doctor of Laws degree by The University of the West Indies and the citation noted that the “fracture which Minna Israel has generated in the proverbial glass ceiling may very well have terminally compromised its structural integrity”.

Thirty years ago, banking was a male-dominated field. It must have taken tremendous competence and professionalism for Minna Israel to have moved up the ranks to become Scotiabank's country manager for The Bahamas and later the first woman president of the Jamaica Bankers Association.

This was a quantum leap not only for women in banking, but also for those in other areas of Jamaica's private and public sectors. From Minna, her fellow Jamaican women learned that they could be leaders while still embracing the fine qualities of their gender — dedication, compassion, and resilience. It is no wonder then that in a recent survey Jamaica was found to have more women managers per capita than any other country in the world.

The photographs out of the Houston event last Friday showed the tremendous support that Minna received from her Jamaican IWF sisters, led by President Camille Facey and fellow members Patsy Atterbury-Latchman, Valerie Facey, Jeanne Robinson-Foster, Anya Schnoor, Jackie Sharp, Marcia Forbes, Allison Peart, Therese Turner-Jones, Scarlette Gillings, Corinne McLarty, and Peta-Rose Hall. The bonds are strong as we celebrate and support each other; checking egos at the door and stepping into a space of positivity and affirmation.

Jamaica is ahead of the curve in acknowledging gender equality, though lagging in our representation in the highest offices. We in the IWF and other women's organisations, such as the St Andrew Business and Professional Women's Club, the Women's Leadership Initiative, Women Business Owners and WMW Jamaica, are not seeking dominance, but rather equality. If more decision-makers were aware that organisations which strive for gender balance are more profitable and successful, we would be leaps ahead.

Today's by-elections

As Jamaicans in three constituencies head to by-elections today, here is a timely reminder from the website of the Electoral Office of Jamaica. The mission of the Electoral Office of Jamaica is to so conduct national elections that no unfair advantage is given to any party or individual contesting the polls, ensuring that the objective of one man one vote is met under the six stated principles of universal adult suffrage. These principles are:

• The vote is universal: All citizens who meet the qualifications established by law have the right to vote.

• The vote is free: The elector is entitled to vote free.

• The vote is secret: The process guarantees not to publicise the preference or will of any elector.

• The vote is direct: The citizen elects the representative of his choice.

• The vote is personal: The elector shall attend in person at his/her designated polling station.

• The vote is non-transferable: The elector cannot transfer to anyone his right to vote.

Usain & Brand JA

If you caught The Late Late Show with James Corden last week featuring our beloved Usain Bolt you would understand why he has now advanced to becoming one of the world's most valuable 'athlete brands'. According to Forbes magazine, Bolt has shown an eight per cent increase in his earnings now, at US$27 million, and is third only to Cleveland Cavaliers Star LeBron James and tennis celebrity Roger Federer. This means that Usain Bolt has surpassed even the great Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in the ratings.

As we watched his easy banter on the James Corden show we understood why so many corporates, following the early lead of Digicel, are after the Usain Bolt nod. Jamaicans still do not realise the impact that he has made on our Brand Jamaica. When James Corden asked Usain how he could look so cool wearing lederhosen at Oktoberfest, Usain replied, with a grin, that it was because he was Jamaican and we are just very cool people. That sort of response, my countrywomen and men, is what they call 'money'.

Meanwhile, GraceKennedy, Digicel and the National Road Safety Council have renewed contracts with new mom, athlete and entrepreneur Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce. Every parent would like to raise another Usain or Shelly-Ann. Let them look at the discipline and protection offered by parents, married and single, to ensure that these children had the best chance in life.

It is said that for a child to thrive, she or he requires the unconditional love of a parent or guardian. It may seem simple, but in this demanding world we can sometimes overlook the needs and aspirations of our children as we pursue our own. Congratulations to the Bolt family and the family of Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, you have all demonstrated to Jamaica that it is not money that determines a child's success, rather it is focus and determination that will decide one's future.

Thank you, AMCHAM

Please allow me to thank the American Chamber of Commerce of Jamaica for its kind gesture of awarding me the Civic Leadership Individual Award for 2017 in recognition of the founding of the Caribbean Community of Retired Persons (CCRP) and other outreach activities. CCRP has been generously supported by 90+ discount partners and Sagicor who provide an affordable major medical health insurance for our members. I share the award with the CCRP board and staff and, most of all, our beloved seniors, the bedrock of Jamaica, who deserve every protection and affirmation.

Congratulations to fellow Convent of Mercy 'Alpha' Woman of Excellence Hermine Metcalfe who was a nominee. Kudos also to top honorees Diana Stewart and Douglas Orane and other awardees Jamaica Energy Partners, Eve for Life, Women's Leadership Initiative, Red Stripe, and Sagicor Foundation & Sagicor Group Limited.






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