Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs.
PHILIPSBURG–“Speak out where inequalities exist,” Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs urged on Sunday in commemoration of International Women’s Day, which is being observed today, Monday, March 8.
She also called for more opportunities to be provided for gender equality for women and girls. In a statement, Jacobs said there are still some countries around the world where women do not enjoy equal rights, are not allowed to speak, voice opinions, make choices or decisions and have to obey their “superiors”, places where little girls are not allowed to dream. In these countries, the role of women is limited to traditional roles within the home and community.
“Our best effort continues to be ‘choosing to challenge’ by speaking out where inequalities exist. We must continue to highlight positive examples and take action for equality by providing more opportunities for gender equity for every woman and girl,” Jacobs said. “As a country, this means we continue to lead by example, as mothers, sisters, colleagues and friends, so that our little girls will strive to achieve even more than we have achieved and our little boys will respect and honour them for the valid contributions they make. Understanding, equity and compassion should also be taught to our boys and men as they also have a role to play in the promotion of equality for women and girls.”
Jacobs said International Women’s Day gives her great pleasure to celebrate the accomplishments, and leadership of women all around the world.
“We have come a long way, from when we were not allowed to vote, make decisions or hold certain functions to breaking the moulds set by men throughout history. We have seen women rise to the occasion, especially during the [coronavirus – Ed.] COVID-19 pandemic, and exhibit leadership skills in protecting their communities in governments around the world.”
This year’s International Women’s Day theme is “choose to challenge,” raising awareness against bias and taking action for equality. “We recognise the fight of women for economic, social, and political rights, and celebrate their progress and success.”
In 2020, the first Oualichi International Women’s Day Award Ceremony was held in recognition of “50 strong and influential women” of St. Maarten/St. Martin. This year, the event will be held virtually, due to COVID-19 and other operational issues. “Even so, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to recognise all the wonderful women who have made a difference through 2020 and throughout our history. Bringing awareness to our community on the great achievements and contributions of women throughout the many sectors of our society will only serve to motivate and inspire our young women and girls to be even more, and show out both here at home and abroad.”
In our daily lives and in our community, we have women who inspire us every day. We have women leading in virtually all of our sectors – women who are entrepreneurs, doctors and other healthcare workers, lawyers, artists, activists, educators and so much more, even serving at the highest level of government.
Since the achievement of the constituent state status on October 10, 2010, St. Maarten has had two female chairpersons of Parliament, Gracita Arrindell and Sarah Wescott-Williams; as well as three female Prime Ministers, Sarah Wescott-Williams, Leona Marlin-Romeo, and Silveria Jacobs; female head of the Council of Advice, the late Mavis Brooks-Salmon; the General Audit Chamber, Joan Dovale-Meit; Ombudsman, Nilda Arduin-Lynch; and Social Economic Council, Oldine Brison-Pantophlet.
She said for the first time, out of 15 Members of Parliament, there are five female members and of the seven ministers in government, there are three female ministers. “St. Maarten is indeed leading within the region and the world with women in leadership, representation, and equality. We see these changes around the world as well – the US [United States] recently saw its very first female Vice President elected in 2020 in the person of Kamala Harris. We stop, acknowledge, and honour the milestones achieved and the persons who achieved them, even as we acknowledge that despite all of that – there is still much work to be done,” Jacobs said.
As March 2021 progresses, she added, government will continue to highlight women throughout our community via our various media. She encourages organisations to take the time to highlight an outstanding woman during this month.
She wished all women residing in St. Maarten and around the world a Happy International Women’s Day and said, “may you continue to shine your light, as a beacon of hope to inspire young women and girls to challenge any vestiges of inequality aimed at deterring them from achieving their dreams.”