Sunday, January 20, 2019

[Editorial] See Jane Run…The World

By on December 14, 2018

Editor’s note: The following originally appeared in the Dec. 13-19, 2018, issue of Caribbean Business.

In the time since coming under the ownership of Latin Media House in 2015, Caribbean Business has attempted to depart from the annual tradition of selecting a Person of the Year in the Public and Private Sectors, naming instead either persons or events that were the most transcendent for our society across the calendar years.

In 2015, the editorial board made that departure radical in selecting Puerto Rico’s debt monster, which while not quite Godzilla, towered at $74 billion at the time and drew the most column inches in coverage from the international financial press.

In 2017, we came up with the idea to name Hurricane Maria’s Unsung Heroes our collective Person of the Year. Although the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (Prepa) perhaps received the most attention worldwide as the poster child of inefficiency in the aftermath of Maria, the resilience, humane drive and resolve of the Unsung Heroes seemed a more fitting selection for its virtue of uplift so desperately needed by our people.

A year after the trials and tribulations withstood in the wake of devastation, people are slowly getting back on their feet after being brought to their knees, and a new sense of hope now underpins our daily endeavors. Time and distance from disaster give us the wherewithal to appreciate the extraordinary in 2018. Much as Time magazine did in 2017 when they selected the stalwarts of the #MeToo movement as their Person of the Year, Caribbean Business decided to choose Women Effecting Change as our Person of the Year in 2018.

Our heroines come from all walks of life and are not exclusive to Puerto Rico, but rather extend across the globe inspiring us from near and far. Across the United States, we saw resounding victories for women running for seats in the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives that prompted a significant shift in female representation on Capitol Hill. With the 2018 election, the number of women in the 115th Congress will reach 20 percent in the House and 25 percent in the Senate (see Cover Story, page 10).

Importantly, many of the women come from diverse backgrounds, as is the case with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who is of Puerto Rican descent, while Ayanna Presley is the first African-American congresswoman for Massachusetts.

In Puerto Rico, there are heroes from the realm of human rights facing down the horrific onslaught of domestic violence that has led to the deaths of 30 women in 2018. That is 30 too many. Thus, we are thankful for the group Colectiva Feminista en Construcción, whose work demanding government action has brought the disturbing number of men murdering their spouses into the public spotlight. The Colectiva has joined forces with other groups such as Proyecto Matria, which has long been advocating for women’s rights.

Caribbean Business journalists, who conducted research and interviews for the Cover Story, report that the stand against assaults on women is not exclusive to Puerto Rico. Our reporters inform: “Native American women are also taking to the streets to denounce the rise in murder rates and sexual assault against this group of women. Native American women, such as Barb and Donna Semans, Rosebud Sioux natives working through Four Directions Inc. are also addressing issues of voter suppression and low voter participation within Native American communities.”

Although women have made progress in the political realm, there is plenty of work left to be done in the corporate realm. Several weeks ago, this newspaper published our annual special report Women Who Lead as a milestone event because it was done so as a collaborative effort with the Women Who Lead Summit, a movement spearheaded by Frances Ríos.

Those summits have made a quantum leap not only in reach, but also in the C-level women who bring to the forefront important issues ranging from disparities in wages to the importance of having more women leading companies. In fact, her establishment of parameters for W-Certified Companies, a stamp of approval for businesses that meet conditions conducive to gender equality in the workplace, have seen more companies each day adhering to those equality codes.

Others who have seen the benefits of the empowerment of women are following suit with initiatives that are tapping into third-sector resources to help provide economic and social development programs for the advancement of entrepreneurial efforts headed by women. Such is the case with Animus 2018, an innovation summit—described by founder Lucienne Gigante as a “platform for the economic growth of women as part of the country’s economic development, evidenced through…the number of companies led by women.”

If women can help exact change in the political realm, on the civil rights front, in achieving equality in the workplace and in helping to create jobs, the world will be a better place. Congratulations to our Person of the Year 2018.

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