On March 8, we celebrate International Women’s Day and take time to highlight the work of equality being championed by women across the world. The theme for International Women’s Day 2023 is #EmbraceEquity and speaks perfectly to the mission of this movement to drive the provision of equal access and opportunity. In Jamaica, women entrepreneurship is on the rise and it is a beautiful sight.
Increasingly, women are starting their own businesses and becoming their own boss. This is a trend that is being seen all over the world. In fact, approximately 53% of clients at the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC), are females. This month, Entrepreneur Weekly will zoom in on female entrepreneurs making their mark in the arts, in finance, innovation and technology.
There are many reasons why women are choosing to become entrepreneurs. For some, it is a way to achieve financial independence. For others, it is a way to follow their passion or to create something that they believe in. Whatever the reason, there is no doubt that women entrepreneurship is on the rise in Jamaica.
Powerhouse Women in the Cultural and Creative Industries
The Cultural and Creative Industries (CCIs) in Jamaica is vast and expansive and according to UNESCO, Jamaica’s CCIs are estimated to contribute to 5.2% of the country’s GDP, generating revenues of JMD $2.2 billion annually. However, another reality that coexists with its vitality is conversation surrounding gender dominance in the various sectors within the CCIs.
Trishana McGowan, Toni-Kay Dawkins and Terry-Ann Miller are three notably talented women that have risen against the odds of what is societally prescribed as male-dominated careers to make their marks on the industry. Sports journalism, photography, film and production are predominantly seen as traditionally male roles in the CCI but each of these women have taken strides to have more female representation in their fields.
Trishana McGowan is an award-winning sports journalist and multi-talented sports professional with 9 years of combined experience in various aspects of the sporting arena. She said, “I believe that women in general have made a lot of strides and this is also seen in the world of sports as well. It is often said that comparison is the thief of joy and this I have seen to be true in this industry.” Continuing, she added “Women are defying stereotypes in every facet of sport as we progress by excelling as female athletes, and sports media professionals.”
Terry-Ann Miller is an exceptional professional photographer with over 10 years of experience in a field that is largely seen as a masculine job. Terry-Ann thoughtfully comments on issue of whether male or female careers exist in photography “To that question I say no, I have not seen in my own experience a career within this field that cannot be held by both a male and female. it is more about the professional’s character, style, experience, focus, rather than being subject to or limited by gender.”
Encouraging women in the creative industries, Miller said “If you are turning your passion into profit, go for it. People generally default to negativity as opposed to uplifting expressions. Since creative support is sometimes scarce, you must draw strength from inside.”
Theatre is another field within the industry where we see men filling roles as directors and producers but Toni-Kay “TK” Dawkins, daughter of Playwright and Producer, Basil Dawkins, has beat the odds to become a representative for females in this space. She noted that, “When it comes on to gender disparity in the theatre, the first fundamental problem is that there are less successful and lucrative role models for women to see in the industry.” Continuing, she noted “There are not many spaces in theatre and not many resources available for playwriting and production, so there is a tendency to struggle to secure a spot and this is especially so for women. Women are often groomed to be amiable and feminine, but in the business world, breaking down barriers to success requires a lot of push.”
JBDC and Women Entrepreneurs
As we strive towards policy changes in favour of gender equality, JBDC salutes women who are making names for themselves in the cultural and creative industries that will pave the way for others to follow. Along with women in CCIs, JBDC is providing support through a project with the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) called “Increasing The Export Capacity Of Micro And Small Agro-Processors Using The Cluster Approach Project.” This project will lead to economic growth and additional opportunities for Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) and greater economic empowerment for women. Gender is mainstreamed in this project and underpins the project components which seek to increase the economic prospects of women and girls in the agro-processing sector and awareness of gender-related concerns in all initiatives.
Through the blog this March, we will explore the journey of female entrepreneurs making waves in their various industries and how they have traversed this walk of entrepreneurship as a woman in Jamaica.