Jamaica Gender Lens Entrepreneurship and Investing Report

Authored by: Girls Who Venture

Categories: Human Rights
Sub-Categories: COVID-19, Democratization and Political Participation, Economic Participation, Economic Recovery, Human Development, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV)
Country: Jamaica
Region: Latin America and the Caribbean
Year: 2020
Citation: "Jamaica Gender Lens Entrepreneurship and Investing Report." Girls Who Venture. 2020.

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Executive Summary

Jamaica is the largest English-speaking island in the West Indies and is the third largest island in the Caribbean. The nation has an upper middle-income economy with a GDP per capita of $5,582 USD (World Bank 2019) and a population of approximately 2.93 million people (World Bank 2020). The nation struggles with a growth rate of less than 1% (World Bank 2019), a government debt to GDP ratio of 103.3% (Trading Economics 2020), and a poverty rate of 19% (World Bank 2020). Although the unemployment rate dropped to 7.2% in 2019 (World Bank 2020), the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) projects that the unemployment rate could increase to 12% due to the economic impacts of COVID-19 (Pate 2020).

Prior to the colonization by the Europeans in 1494, Jamaica was originally inhabited by the Arawaks who named the island Xaymaca, which meant “land of wood and water” (JIS 2020). Like many colonized countries, Jamaica endured a long history of colonial rule, oppression, and economic development through slavery. After gaining political independence from England in 1962, Jamaica is now a constitutional monarchy and a parliamentary democracy with a functional two-party system (Meditz and Hanratty 1987). This means that Jamaica has retained the British monarch as its chief of state although it is an independent member of the British Commonwealth of Nations (Meditz and Hanratty 1987). The governor general, who is appointed by the Queen of England upon recommendation from the Jamaican prime minister, exercises executive power that is vested nominally in the queen (Meditz and Hanratty 1987)

The Jamaican Constitution 1962 remains the cornerstone of the island’s legal system and institutions as it guarantees the freedom, rights and privileges of every Jamaican citizen (JIS 2020). Inhumane treatment and racial, sexual, or political discrimination is forbidden under the Constitution (JIS 2020). Jamaican women are given full equality with equal pay as men for the same work under the 1975 Employment Act (JIS 2020). However, what is written in legal documents does not translate into reality as women remain disadvantaged in the labor force.