Celebrating women during the COVID-19 crisis

Today March 8, marks the second International Women’s Day that has fallen during this time of unprecedented crisis of the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

However despite the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, we still celebrate women the world over, whose contributions allow for society to continue. The fact is, there is so much to celebrate with women playing critical roles during the response. With women making up the large swaths of the working population of areas such as healthcare, they have been constantly called upon to put their lives on the line to ensure that the lives of others are spared from the the debilitating virus.

Through a variety of roles such as community health aides, public health inspectors, emergency medical technicians, women have contributed significantly to the response to the pandemic. In light of this, the Jamaica Association of Local Government Officers (JALGO) joins hands across the world to celebrate women on this day and to recognize the contributions made in the world of work. The significance of these contributions cannot be properly underscored but we know that without this, society would be in a state of serious worry.

We have seen the benefits of women leading during this time of uncertainty and crisis and we want to show our appreciation. This is not foreign to us and we point to the efforts of our own General Secretary Helene Davis Whyte who continue to lead the charge on behalf of workers in Jamaica. Mrs Whyte, as head of the Jamaica Confederation of Trade Unions (JCTU) continues to ensure that we work towards achieving the tenets of decent work (Goal 8 of the SDGs) during this time.

However while we laud such efforts of the roles and actions of women, we still have to recognize that women still face a number of challenges in achieving gender equality. During this time of crisis, women are still subjected to and face much worse conditions that impact their well-being not only in the workplace but in their homes and communities. The theme this year “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world,” is of great significance as it speaks to changing the narrative that have held down women for too long.

According to Rosa Pavanelli, General Secretary of global union federation, Public Services International “women have been disproportionally impacted by the economic crisis and are on the frontline of economic and political dispossession”. However she notes that there is still hope demonstrated by the tenacity of women in that “women are on the frontline as fighters, as leaders of the way forward. Women’s movements worldwide have shown how struggles can unify and are interlinked, how women can revitalise hope for collective action and build on a collective power” she declares.

In light of this JALGO asserts that in dealing with one crisis, we have to address the crisis that has made women seem less than their male counterparts. Until this is challenged and won, we won’t be able to adequately to deal with these challenges in the manner they ought to when they come forward. We therefore declare that women’s rights are human rights and call for a change towards the better.

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