NEWLY appointed chief of defence staff of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF), Antonette Wemyss Gorman has been hailed by the Jamaican Senate for cracking the glass ceiling, allowing women in the Commonwealth to assume leadership of their country's military apparatus.
Leader of Government Business, Senator Kamina Johnson Smith, broke the seal when she informed her colleagues that the new chief of defence staff was the first woman to achieve leadership of the army in any Commonwealth or Caribbean country.
“When we say that the glass ceiling has been shattered, it is not just Jamaica's ceiling that has been shattered, but she is indeed the first woman to lead the military in the Caribbean, and the first in the entire Commonwealth indeed, and I think that we should celebrate that as well,” she informed the Senate.
Government Senator Dr Saphire Longmore, who opened the debate on the Motion for the Adjournment, raised the idea that the commodore had actually shattered the glass ceiling in terms of her performance which led to her historical appointment.
“She is not there because she is female, but she is there because of her accomplishments. I celebrate the fact that she has not just broken the glass ceiling, but she has shattered it,” Longmore said, adding “and not just as a woman, but as a person who has overcome challenges within the career which she had chosen.”
Opposition Senator Donna Scott Mottley was delighted that Wemyss Gorman's performance and the success she has achieved is so outstanding.
“She has shattered not just a glass ceiling but she now heads the only remaining male-dominated field, which is at the pinnacle of the country's responsibilities,” she said.
“We have had a female prime minister, we have had a female chief justice, we have had a female director of public prosecutions — but we never really saw the army being led by a woman as likely,” Scott Mottley stated.
She also welcomed Wemyss Gorman's focus on the national security apparatus, and her admitting that it is the main issue that keeps her awake at nights.
“So she brings to the position an understanding that there is a culture of violence and so the strategies have to be shifting the culture — which is a long and tedious process,” Scott Mottley said.
“I hope that her leadership will lead to the JDF showing greater emphasis on protecting our borders…One of the things we need to do is to stop the guns coming in, and I am certainly looking forward to the strategies that she will develop,” she said.
Johnson Smith, who is also minister of foreign affairs and foreign trade, closed that Wemyss Gorman is a “strong personality with a backbone that demonstrates itself with a steely resolve”. She said that she has had the opportunity to liaise regularly with her, through her ministry, in dealing with issues.
“Her mind is strategic, agile and clear and [is] what Jamaica needs now — which is steady, safe, strong, sure hands,” she concluded.
Earlier in the sitting, Government Senator Donald Wehby congratulated Wemyss Gorman as he closed the 2021/22 State of the Nation Debate at Gordon House.
“I personally rely on the expertise of the leadership of the Jamaica Constabulary Force and the JDF. I have a lot of confidence in the Commissioner of Police [Major General Antony Anderson] and the newly appointed chief of staff of the JDF ,” he said, using the opportunity to welcome the rear admiral.
Wemyss Gorman was installed last Thursday at a ceremony at King's House. The handover took place on Friday at Up Park Camp.