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Boyea-King: Positive outlook for women

Boyea-King: Positive outlook for women


Ambassador Betty Boyea-King has predicted that women’s participation in the workforce, politics and other fields will increase significantly in the near future.{{more}}

Boyea-King made this assessment as she delivered the ninth lecture in the Girls’ High School centenary series, which took place at Frenches House, Thursday, January 6. The lecture was under the theme, ‘The Role of Women in Business and Politics’.

She spoke of the world-wide problem, where female presence in the upper echelons of governance and the workforce are limited, especially in the Caribbean region.

“Women are half of the world’s population, but only hold one fifth of the positions in national government. [They] are one of the world’s greatest untapped resources,” she pointed out.

The GHS alumna noted that in the Caribbean, 1980 was the first time that a woman held the position of prime minister in the region, when Dame Eugenia Charles was elected to office in Dominica.

Boyea-King added that in 2006, Jamaica’s Portia Simpson-Miller was the next female to assume such a role, albeit short-lived; and currently the region is back to the same scenario as 1980, with Trinidad and Tobago’s Kamla Persaud-Bissessar being the region’s lone female prime minister.

Boyea-King stated that there is no country in the Caribbean where women hold more than 20 per cent of the seats in the national parliament.

“World-wide, the picture is not much better,” she added, pointing out that in the USA, only three percent of Fortune 500 chief executive officers are women; a pattern that is repeated in every industrialized nation.

In Latin America, only Brazil and Argentina currently have female heads of government. In the “vast continent of Africa”, only Liberia has a woman as its head of state. And of the 192 United Nations member states, only 23 are ruled by women.

Boyea-King did, however, point out: “Despite this dismal view from the top of the corporate and political hierarchy, the broader workforce participation picture is noticeably brighter for women around the world.”

She said that in most Caribbean countries, women represent just over 50 per cent of the workforce.

“Ironically, the looming problem in the Caribbean workforce may not be too few women, but too few men.”

Boyea-King noted that, given the number of women currently pursuing studies in medicine at the University of the West Indies, in a few years, the vast majority of positions will be occupied by women.

“This in a field that, not so long ago, was dominated by men.”

She said that in the United States last year, women became the majority of its workforce for the first time in the country’s history.

“The data is trending in a similar direction in most market economies.”

Boyea-King also pointed out that, for the first time in China, the world’s fastest growing economy, women own approximately 40 per cent of private businesses.

The ambassador also took the opportunity to touch on violence against women and human trafficking. She remarked that research shows that women who are more educated are less likely to end up in abusive relationships with men – hence the importance of female liberation and independence.

“As we look across the world, it is evident that countries are more peaceful and prosperous when women are afforded full and equal rights and opportunities,” she said.

Boyea-King spoke of a recent conference that she attended in Egypt, where human trafficking was the main focus.

“In our civilized world, the term ‘human trafficking’ should be an oxymoron… we should be trafficking goods, not persons,” said Boyea-King.

She said that this illegal activity is the second largest within the criminal world, and that young women comprise the majority of persons who are trafficked.

Boyea-King also congratulated the organizers of the lecture series on a job well done.

“This year-long celebration of an institution dedicated to the education of women is both appropriate and timely,” she said.

“It is also appropriate and timely to think of the less celebrated among us, and to translate those thoughts into action.”