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20 women who rocked 2020

Monday, December 28, 2020


THE year 2020 has truly been one for the books. What started out for most of us as another promising year to chase our dreams, suddenly mutated into a public health and economic nightmare, and a roller-coaster of restrictions. For many of us, many personal ambitions had to be placed on the back burner this year, as the need for survival took precedence.

Despite the hardships, however, 2020 will go down in the books as a blessing for many people, as they managed to weather the storm and achieve great things despite the challenges around them. Among these greats are several Jamaican women, 20 of whom All Woman recognises for their extraordinary work in the areas of leadership, governance, entertainment, education, health, advocacy and philanthropy.

Dr Jacquiline Bisasor Mckenzie

Our Chief Medical Officer has become one of the most prominent and respected public figures in the country since the pandemic reached our shores. Dr Bisasor-McKenzie maintained calm and unwavering authority in leading the nation's public health response, and has been a reliable source of credible information about a virus that has continued to cause widespread illness and panic.

Paula Llewellyn

Jamaica's first female Director of Public Prosecutions, Paula Llewellyn, who has been recommended to serve the country for another three years, has led her office in handling several high-profile legal matters this year with transparency and integrity.

Fayval Williams

First as Minister of Science, Energy and Technology, and then as Minister of Education, Fayval Williams has been critical in the sudden transition to cyberspace that has been thrust upon the country this year. Minister Williams has led with decisiveness in seeing to it that students continue to have access to quality education in and outside of the classroom, and has recently launched the pilot programme to begin the resumption of face-to-face learning safely.

Olivia Grange

Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Olivia Grange this year opened the doors of the long-awaited national shelter for victims of domestic violence. Also under her leadership, the debates on Bills to protect women and girls have been moving along in Parliament, and she has no doubt taken the gender portfolio to levels not seen before.

Audrey Tugwell Henry

Effective January 1, 2021, Audrey Tugwell Henry will assume the role of president and CEO of Scotia Group Jamaica, making her the second-ever woman to hold the position. With Tugwell Henry's appointment, four of the eight commercial banks operating in Jamaica will now be headed by women.

Rhoda Moy Crawford

Member of Parliament newcomer Rhoda Moy Crawford created the biggest upset in the September 3 general elections this year, when she beat three-term Member of Parliament Peter Bunting for the Central Manchester seat. Crawford's victory for the Jamaica Labour Party was especially savoury because other more seasoned politicians had not been successful over the years in conquering the seat, and winning over the constituents.

Taneka McKoy Phipps

Early childhood educator Taneka McKoy Phipps is recognised as one of the unsung community heroes of 2020, for her commitment and dedication to ensuring that children in several inner city communities could still actively engage with educational material after schools closed in March. Phipps toured the communities daily to write lessons on the community noticeboards for each age cohort, and engaged with parents so that they could better assist their children with distance learning.

Dionne Jackson Miller

The seasoned journalist and broadcaster, and former president of the Press Association of Jamaica, has relentlessly and fearlessly sought information on matters in the nation's best interests for over 20 years, and especially this year. Even in the face of much criticism, Jackson Miller consistently demanded accountability and transparency as the nation experienced a general election, an eventful opposition leadership race, and continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dahlia Harris

In the face of the shutdown of the entire entertainment industry this year, including the theatre scene, revered actress, playwright and broadcaster Dahlia Harris saw an opportunity to create more local film content. Harris, in just a few months, wrote and produced the television drama series Love and Dancehall, which simultaneously created employment and entertainment for many Jamaicans.

Tami Chin Mitchell

Tami Chin Mitchell, along with her entire family, has been a source of quality family entertainment and inspiration in a time when that was most needed. Through the positivity-centred morning programme Live Out Loud on The Edge 105 FM, and her podcast and YouTube channel, this 'multipotentialite' has provided a beacon of hope and a bellyful of laughter to hundreds of thousands of viewers and listeners while we practised social distancing.

Koffee

Although pre-COVID events feel like more than a few months ago, it was actually only this February that, at 19, Koffee made history by becoming the youngest ever and first female winner of the Best Reggae Album Grammy award. Since her win, the young woman's international career has grown exponentially, and she is rapidly becoming one of the most prominent global ambassadors of Jamaican popular culture.

Shenseea

Although it has been a tough year for Shenseea, who lost her mother a few months ago, the singer has proven that she is tougher. Not only has the 24-year-old overcome personal and economic challenges to keep rising into a global success, but she has also made it her priority to give to the less fortunate. The single mother handed out over 100 tablets to students in some of Jamaica's most underserved communities, and recently partnered in the construction of 10 homes for Jamaicans.

Alia Atkinson

Olympic swimmer Alia Atkinson was named this year as Champion Ambassador of the Special Olympics Movement, the first Caribbean Olympic athlete to be so named. The recognition came just after Atkinson, who is a four-time Olympian and three-time Jamaican female athlete of the year, later concluded a sizzling International Swimming League season in Hungary.

Khadija Shaw

Jamaican footballer and member of the history-making Reggae Girls football team, Khadija Shaw, continued to excel in her sport this year, and was ranked 49th among the Guardian's top 100 women footballers of the year. The 23-year-old was named Player of the Month for October by Bordeau, the French club for which she has been a player since last year.

Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce

Though our Mommy Rocket has not been able to spend much time on the track this year, she has maintained a track record of excellence through her philanthropic efforts. Fraser-Pryce, through her Pocket Rocket Foundation, has equipped over 50 students in the community of Waterhouse in Kingston with desktops and tablet computers so they can participate in online learning. In the meantime, her foundation continues to help student athletes with scholarships to further their education.

Yendi Phillipps

Model, TV host, entrepreneur and beauty queen, Yendi Phillipps reinvented herself in 2020 to be able to share meaningful content to our souls. Phillipps started her own talk show series, Odyssey with Yendi: Untold Journeys on YouTube. She interviews well-known individuals, but rather than focusing on the mundane and superficial topics, she delves into the innermost sanctum of these celebrities to show us a side of them that we never knew existed.

Serika Sterling

After losing two of her three premature sons in 2017, accountant, entrepreneur and law student Serika Sterling founded the Preemie Foundation of Jamaica, and has created a supportive local community for the families of premature babies, and has also advocated for more to be done on the research and national policy level to give other preemies a fighting chance. The foundation also raised funds to assist with purchasing a ventilator for every major hospital in Jamaica, as they were woefully lacking across the island long before COVID-19 brought this to national attention.

Nadine Molloy

A past president of the Jamaica Teachers' Association, Nadine Molloy has been instrumental in ensuring that Ardenne High, where she's principal, is at the forefront leading the charge in the online learning model in Jamaica. Under her leadership, the school was able to quickly pivot to the online model when schools closed in March, and at a time when many other schools weren't able to. Administrators at the school have recorded a 98 per cent attendance among its students at online classes, and Molloy has credited the online culture at Ardenne for the easy transition among the student population.

Diana McCaulay

The founder and director of the Jamaica Environment Trust, McCaulay, along with other environmental advocates, has been fierce in her bid to protect Jamaica's natural resources from the negative effects of industrial activity. McCaulay and others continue to advocate for an expedited ground-truthing of the Cockpit Country Protected Area boundary, and the establishment of buffer zones around the protected area, as well as advocating for transparency around the proposed development in the Dry Harbour Mountain area.

Khadine Hylton

Broadcaster and event hostess Khadine 'Miss Kitty' Hylton, added another jewel to her crown this year when she was called to the Bar as an attorney-at-law. Miss Kitty, who has always used her platform to encourage women to pursue their dreams relentlessly, embodies her message as she continues to chase her own dreams.