Balancing acts here and abroad


Balancing acts here and abroad

Jean Lowrie-Chin

Monday, January 13, 2020

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As we looked at a line-up of members of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) executive at a recent press briefing it was clear that the organisation is no longer what it was dubbed several decades ago — “Privileged Sons of Jamaica”.

Flanking President Keith Duncan were Vice-President Mariame McIntosh Robinson, PSOJ CEO Makeba Bennett-Easy, and executive member Eva Lewis. Other members are vice-presidents Jackie Sharpe and Jeffrey Hall, and Treasurer Vikram Dhiman. Here, we have the gender balance that has proved to be an important factor for the development of countries and organisations.

We were encouraged that after the Jamaica Stock Exchange was criticised for its heavily male slate of speakers for the upcoming conference, two women have since been added, though a better gender balance would have been desirable.

This is a worldwide issue. Kasie Hunt, host of the MSNBC programme Kasie DC, recently returned from maternity leave and, while thanking her employers for generous benefits, noted that her fellow American women did not have it as good. Indeed, she said that, while men's pay often went up after they became fathers, women's pay went down when they became mothers.

After many years in business we can say that the mothers on our team have been the most organised and professional. Balancing home and office helps women to develop time-management skills. We also found that they took the least number of sick days. Perhaps it is because mothers (and dedicated fathers too) adopt a healthier lifestyle after the arrival of their children. We are short-sighted if we believe it is an inconvenience to give parents time off to attend Parent-Teacher Association meetings and other important school activities. Where will our country be if we in business do not encourage our workers to be good parents? A gender balance in leadership will bring better understanding of such issues.

The Sussex announcement

New mother, the Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle has hinted at challenges as the first mixed-race woman to join the British royal family in recent history. Racist, time-wasting tabloids and the paparazzi whose hounding had led to the tragic death of Meghan's mother-in-law Princess Diana, have caused so much anxiety that it is no wonder that Meghan and her husband Harry have announced their decision to no longer fulfil duties as “senior royals”.

If the racists keep hounding the duchess, will her son, Archie, also be subjected to such insults? These concerns would make any parent seek solutions for a safe and peaceful family life.

Fae Ellington shared a column by author Afua Hirsch in The New York Times headlined 'Black Britons know why Meghan Markle wants out'. Hirsch notes, “Both she and Harry appear to have gained crystal clear vision as to their reality. It's no wonder the couple want to leave and — as the coded statement that they want to raise their son, Archie, 'with the space to focus on the next chapter' seems to suggest — protect him from the bile to which they've been exposed.”

She writes, “Those who claim frequent attacks against the duchess have nothing to do with her race have a hard time explaining…the fact that she has been most venomously attacked for acts that attracted praise when other royals did them.”

Hirsch concludes, “Her treatment has proved what many of us have always known: No matter how beautiful you are, whom you marry, what palaces you occupy, charities you support, how faithful you are, how much money you accumulate, or what good deeds you perform, in this society racism will still follow you.” Very sad, indeed.

Mending hearts at Bustamante

Well, do I remember that sunny day, nine years ago, when representatives of Digicel and the Ministry of Health broke ground at the Bustamante Hospital for Children for the building of a cardiac unit to commemorate the company's 10th anniversary. In partnership with the National Health Fund, Chain of Hope, the Shaggy Make a Difference Foundation, Sagicor, and Gift of Life, the facility, including the painstaking installation of a well-needed catheterisation lab, was finally completed in 2018.

It was great to catch up, last week, with Chain of Hope CEO Emma Scanlan, whose organisation invites international medical volunteers to heal tiny hearts worldwide. Since 2018, 246 infants and young children have received free heart surgery, valued at over $9 million each at the Bustamante unit. The team which performed surgeries over the past week comprised the unit director, Jamaica's own Dr Sherard Little and medical personnel from UK, Guyana, Norway, Denmark, Italy, Canada, and the United States.

I have had the pleasure of sitting in the waiting area with anxious parents and sharing their relief when Dr Little emerged to assure them that the surgery had gone well, and their child would be restored to good health. Emma noted that the children heal quickly, much to the delight of the dedicated doctors and nurses at the unit.

Nadine Sutherland's 40th anniversary

December 13, 2019 marked 40 years since Nadine Sutherland, at 10 years old, won the first Tastee Talent Contest. At a recent event organised by Images LLC, and hosted by Tastee CEO Patsy Latchman-Atterbury at the company's boardroom, Nadine is quoted by Jamaica Observer entertainment writer Howard Campbell: “To Tastee, my destiny has been so intertwined with you. You are a representation of a corporate entity of Jamaica who invested back into the people so a Nadine Sutherland can stand here right now. So, I really want to thank you 'cause you did change my life; you did give me a platform. I'm a country girl singing 'round the area; I met Bob Marley, I met Peter Tosh; Sangie [Davis] wrote my songs. It's like a Cinderella story, so I'm forever thankful to you.”

I believe Member of Parliament Ann-Marie “Action Ann” Vaz is forever thankful to Nadine for Action, which became the theme song and her moniker for the campaign which won her the Portland Eastern seat

In spite of her remarkable career, not only in music but also in education, Nadine remains humble and engaging. Perhaps because she is not given to the hype of stardom, Nadine Sutherland does not get the kudos she deserves. Wise and generous, Nadine spreads positivity on her social media pages.

Happy 40th anniversary to a woman whose music has given rhythm and colour to our lives, and whose professionalism is inspiring. No one stays current for four decades without courage and perseverance. Congratulations, Nadine Sutherland. Keep shining, my friend!

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