The first and only female to lead the oldest, independent English-speaking nation in the Caribbean received a grateful and rousing farewell Sunday when her People’s National Party’s Women’s Movement ramped up accolades to her during their annual conference by inviting California Congresswoman Maxine Waters to keynote an address to women.
Portia Simpson Miller was honored and regaled by the activist females associated with the political party, presented a personal Women in Politics award and distinguished by an address urging women themed: “Be Bold for Change; Empowering Women in Politics.”
“These women are activists, innovators and leaders in the political arena,” Jennifer Edwards, president of the PNP Women’s Movement said.
“Their experience challenges us to do more with our collective voice and to dare to say what we believe even if it unpopular!”
“We are thrilled to honor Comrade Simpson Miller and engage Congresswoman Waters and other bold inspiring women at this year’s conference.”
Renowned for taking bold and decisive stance on behalf of her constituents, Cong. Waters has been voicing a willingness to impeach President Donald Trump.
Along with advocating for numerous feminist proposals to advance the position of women in America, Cong. Waters relentlessly defends the rights of immigrants, the LGBTQ community and the homeless in her state.
Although the legislator was on a private visit to the island with her husband, Ambassador Sidney Williams, allegedly, when she was told about the conference and the movement of female activists revered as “one of the foremost voices on issues affecting women and girls in Jamaica” she accepted the invitation to address the gathering.
She spoke in an unofficial capacity.
The gender-focused group has been credited with denouncing the killing of women; lobbied for changes to the Sexual Offences Act and petitioned for raising the age of consent and changing the definition of rape as it relates women in marital status.
Reportedly, the political, gender-focused forum is the PNP’s largest event for women.
Reputed for attracting hundreds of participants who meet to discuss national gender equality, how to empower women in politics and for individual professional development, it is an annual calendar event that this year arrived on the heels of the departure from politics by the Opposition leader and first female prime minister.
“We the women of the party and the women of Jamaica need empowerment to speak up for change. That is the focus of this year’s conference,” a spokesperson for the group said.
“What Jamaica needs is fearless leadership and political will! We the women of the party and the women of Jamaica need empowerment to speak up for change. That is the focus of this year’s conference.”
June 27, the full parliamentary body in Jamaica honored Simpson Miller for three and half decades of service to the people of the island.
During an official farewell ceremony at the seat of government at Gordon House in Kingston, two former leaders representing the two political parties witnessed the farewell tribute — former Prime Ministers P.J .Patterson and Edward Seaga — as well as McKeeva Bush, the speaker of the House of Assembly in the Cayman Islands.
She was presented floral bouquets, showered with platitudes and lauded with a multiplicity of gratitude for her devotion to the political arena.
Perhaps regarded as a highlight to her tenure was welcoming President Barack Obama to the island in 2015.
Allegedly, Simpson Miller invited the first Black to lead his Democratic party to two consecutive victories when she met him for the first time during his first term. He promised he would visit the island and one year before leaving the White House became the second sitting US president to visit the island.
President Ronald Regan visited Jamaica in 1982.
“I inherited a constituency with poor and inadequate housing, poor or no public infrastructure, poor health-care facilities and limited access to special services,” the history-making prime minister said, adding that the election of 1976 saw her “thrown into the deep enduring a period of extreme political violence.”
In the presence of the full body of parliamentarians she said that despite widespread criticism and many challenges was able to fulfill her mission.
“In the early days, some said I could not read,” Simpson Miller said, “Is it not ironic, that now they say I read too much?”
“While some judged me harshly I was determined to be who I wanted to be, not how others saw me… I speak of my harsh experiences, not with malice,” advising colleagues “when the slings and arrows come at you, bind up your wounds and focus on your dreams.”
Prime Minister Andrew Holness led the tributes. In honoring her legacy he pledged to ensure that Simpson Miller’s work as a champion of the poor will continue to live on.
“She is a metaphor of hope and faith. In her political career she has been placed against powerful personalities and has never been intimidated by a challenge. I am saying to you on your retirement, that there is a new defender of the poor people of Jamaica.”
Simpson Miller described the Parliament as the “bedrock” of Jamaica’s stable democracy and urged her colleagues in Parliament to do whatever is in the best interest of Jamaicans.
“This parliament is the bedrock of our stable democracy and our free society. It must celebrate the best of Jamaica. It must project what makes us a great people,” she told the House.
Hailed as a “pioneer for female political leaders in the Caribbean,” Holness added that Simpson Miller was not only the seventh woman to be elected to the House of Representatives but was Jamaica’s first, and only, female prime minister.
“This was no ordinary feat… you are no ordinary woman,” Holness said.
“I defied the odds…..and had a date with destiny,” Portia Simpson Miller said.
Catch You On The Inside!