Jamaican News

Statement by the Jamaican Minister of Foreign Affairs on Commonwealth Day

March 8, 2021 | Vision Newspaper |

Today the Jamaican Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator the Hon. Kamina Johnson Smith issued the following statement for Commonwealth Day:

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade and Leader of Government Business in the Senate, Senator the Hon. Kamina Johnson Smith

This year, Commonwealth Day is being celebrated on 8th March under the theme “Delivering a Common Future: Connecting, Innovating and Transforming”.  In so doing, the Commonwealth shares the platform with International Women’s Day, which fortuitously embraces the theme #ChooseToChallenge.

As a nation, Jamaica could not be more cognizant and supportive of the need to connect, innovate and transform as we wrestle with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Indeed, even before COVID, the Government was of the clear understanding that each and all of these three elements were key to our development agenda – critical to delivering both our national and common future.  The impact that the pandemic has had on the Jamaican society and the rest of the world, has brought about greater urgency to advance these objectives.  It has also brought wider perspectives to concepts such as connectivity – highlighting the need for both the social and technological aspects.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also disproportionately affected women, in many cases, exacerbating challenges already confronted in the Commonwealth and around the globe, reminding us that we all share in the same struggle to achieve gender equality. As we seek to recover better, stronger, smarter and more resilient, a gender lens will be necessary to bridge the gap created by the pandemic, and to catapult us into “the Future we want” through economic growth and development which is sustainable and inclusive.

I am motivated by the International Women’s Day 2021 campaign theme #ChooseToChallenge.  As a Commonwealth, we cannot be seeking to go back to the world as it was.  Instead, we must harness the opportunity of this crisis by choosing to challenge the constraints preventing us from attaining our collective potential.  The availability of efficient and affordable ICT infrastructure and network services, with the required digital skill set provided through targeted training will offer opportunities for the participation of all citizens in the digital economy.

We must not only connect our urban communities, but rural communities and all demographic groupings across them.  We must provide the frameworks to not only address the learning loss experience of our children and to release the innovation of our youth.  We must transform our societies for the better – making them more equal, less discriminatory, more peaceful and more just.

These are undoubtedly massive goals.  Should we, as a Commonwealth, choose to rise to the challenge of delivering on our Common Future, it is critical that we cooperate in earnest to connect, innovate and transform.  What a world of possibilities await if we #ChooseToChallenge!  Let us rise to the moment.

Happy Commonwealth Day 2021!

Happy International Women’s Day 2021!

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