DIASPORA | Jamaica's US Ambassador Champions Women's Economic Empowerment

DIASPORA | Jamaica's US Ambassador Champions Women's Economic Empowerment

New York, March 11, 2024 - Jamaica's Ambassador to the United States, Her Excellency Audrey Marks, has pointed to the pivotal role women play in creating a safer and healthier world, and has spotlighted the compelling need for women's economic empowerment.

Ambassador Marks' comments came on Saturday, as she addressed the International Women’s Conference hosted by Nevalliance at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, to enhance awareness on women issues and generate resources to support women’s growth.

"Investing in women is not just a moral imperative but a strategic global necessity," Marks emphasized. Highlighting alarming statistics from UN Women, she noted that an additional US$360 billion per year is required by developing countries to achieve gender equality under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Closing gender gaps in employment could boost GDP per capita by an impressive 20 percent," Marks added, illustrating the vast economic benefits of gender parity.

Jamaica's Ambassador to the United States, Her Excellency Audrey Marks receives a warm welcome from New York State Senator Kevin Parker on her arrival at International Women’s Conference to deliver the keynote address at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York on Saturday March 9th, 2024. Looking on from left to right at Jamaica’s consul general in New York, Alsion Wilson, and   Dr. Neva Alexander, Chief Executive Officer, Neva Alliance. (Photo Derrick Scott).Jamaica's Ambassador to the United States, Her Excellency Audrey Marks receives a warm welcome from New York State Senator Kevin Parker on her arrival at International Women’s Conference to deliver the keynote address at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York on Saturday March 9th, 2024. Looking on from left to right at Jamaica’s consul general in New York, Alsion Wilson, and Dr. Neva Alexander, Chief Executive Officer, Neva Alliance. (Photo Derrick Scott).Yet, despite the clear advantages, the current rate of investment in women is woefully inadequate. "At this trajectory, more than 340 million women and girls will still live in extreme poverty by 2030," Marks lamented, underlining the stark reality faced by millions if immediate action is not taken.

This data framed the profound context for this year's international women’s day theme, "Invest in women: Accelerate progress," echoing a worldwide call to action.

Marks' address was not just a presentation of data but a rallying cry for societal change. She urged attendees and stakeholders worldwide to recognize the crucial role women play in confronting some of the most pressing global challenges today, from geopolitical conflicts and rising poverty levels to the escalating impacts of climate change.

"As half of the world's population, women are not just participants but key drivers of economic growth and societal contributions," Marks asserted.

She drew attention to the diverse roles women occupy, from scientists and military members to entrepreneurs, educators, and political leaders, underscoring their essential contributions across the spectrum of human endeavour.

Marks' powerful message at the conference serves as a critical reminder of the work ahead and the potential for transformative change through collective action and commitment to women's economic liberation.

Ambassador Marks called on women to step forward as active participants in the fight for gender equality. Emphasizing the conference's theme, "leading ladies," Marks championed the idea that women must not only advocate for change but embody it, inspiring others by becoming exemplary figures in all spheres of life.

"We must all become leading ladies in our own right," Marks declared, invoking the collective power and responsibility of women worldwide. Marks' speech encapsulated the vision of women not just as contributors but as pioneers at the forefront of societal progress.

Echoing Melinda Gates' sentiment on empowering daughters to find their voice, Marks emphasized the importance of role modeling for the next generation.

"Let us be the change we wish to see," she urged, calling on women to lead by example and show the world the strength and capability inherent in female leadership.

Marks stressed the importance of visibility and influence, asserting that role models are needed at all levels of society to foster a culture that values and enables women.

Jamaica's Ambassador to the United States, Her Excellency Audrey Marks (second from right) shares  light moment with (from left) Dr. Neva Alexander, Chief Executive Officer, Nevalliance; Jamaica’s consul general in New York, Alsion Wilson; former President of the Jamaica Nurses Group of New York( JAGYN ) Claudette Powell; Past  presidents of the Union of Jamaica Alumni Association (UJAA) Karlene Largie, and Lesleyann Samuels. She was at the International Women’s Conference hosted by Nevalliance at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York on Saturday March 9, 2024. Photo (Derrick Scott).Jamaica's Ambassador to the United States, Her Excellency Audrey Marks (second from right) shares light moment with (from left) Dr. Neva Alexander, Chief Executive Officer, Nevalliance; Jamaica’s consul general in New York, Alsion Wilson; former President of the Jamaica Nurses Group of New York( JAGYN ) Claudette Powell; Past presidents of the Union of Jamaica Alumni Association (UJAA) Karlene Largie, and Lesleyann Samuels. She was at the International Women’s Conference hosted by Nevalliance at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York on Saturday March 9, 2024. Photo (Derrick Scott).Reflecting on her own experiences, Marks shared powerful lessons on embracing innovation, the value of relationships, and the uncompromising importance of integrity.

These personal stories illustrated not just her path to leadership but served as a testament to the impact one individual can have in challenging the status quo and paving the way for others.

The Ambassador's narrative transitioned seamlessly into a broader discourse on the systemic barriers women face and the critical need for structural changes to facilitate women's economic and social empowerment.

She called on leaders, policymakers, and community members to invest in women, highlighting the undeniable return on this investment for society's broader prosperity and well-being.

In her powerful closing, Ambassador Marks reiterated the imperative for action, stating, "To forge a future where everyone thrives, we must all contribute to creating a world brimming with opportunities, where women empowerment is the norm, not the exception."

She envisioned a world where the empowerment of women is recognized not just for its moral righteousness but for its central role in shaping a more equitable, just, and prosperous global society.

With Ambassador Marks' inspiring words echoing in their minds, attendees left the conference motivated to act, aware of the challenges that lie ahead but equally cognizant of the power of collective action and the transformative potential of empowered women.

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