Shirley Pryce

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, JULY 12TH 2017 – Former St. Kitts and Nevis’ Prime Minister The Right Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas has hailed the CARICOM award to Jamaican Ms. Shirley Pryce.

Delivering the feature address at a “Women’s Political Leadership and Participation in the Commonwealth Caribbean” – Commonwealth Expert Validation Workshop in Barbados, Dr. Douglas praised CARICOM’s efforts to recognize outstanding female leadership in the Caribbean.

At the recent Heads of Government Conference in Grenada, CARICOM conferred its twelfth Triennial Award for Women upon Ms. Shirley Pryce of Jamaica.

“This was in recognition of her quarter century of human rights advocacy in Jamaica and the region, as well as her fifteen years of work internationally. Her work has been described as “extra-ordinarily crosscutting” encompassing gender and development, women and development, trade unionism and domestic services. And it has shaped policy frameworks not only within Jamaica, but regionally and internationally as well,” said Dr. Douglas, Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition in the St. Kitts and Nevis National Assembly.

The four-term prime minister told delegates that the honour bestowed upon Ms. Pryce, over the past three decades has been conferred upon Nesta Patrick of Trinidad and Tobago; the late Dame Nita Barrow of Barbados; Dr. Peggy Antrobus of Grenada and St. Vincent and the Grenadines; Magda Pollard of Guyana; Dr. Lucille Mair of Jamaica; Professor Joycelin Massiah of Guyana and Barbados; Professor Rhoda Reddock of Trinidad and Tobago; Justice Desiree Bernard of Guyana; Prof. Barbara Bailey of Jamaica; Prof. Violet Eudine Barriteau of Barbados; and Ms Marion Bethel of The Bahamas.

Ms. Pryce in accepting CARICOM’s top award for women wasted little time in urging member states to follow Jamaica and Guyana to ratify an international convention on the protection of rights for domestic workers.

In 2011, the International Labour Organization (ILO) adopted Convention 189 which established the framework for the protection of the rights of millions of workers, mostly women.

Pryce is now the 12th awardee – and third Jamaican winner – since the triennial award was established in 1983 “to recognise and honour such women of distinction in the Caribbean.”
“This award is very much appreciated, but perhaps the greatest award I have ever been given is the simple opportunity to advocate for the thousands of voiceless women across the world fighting for their rights, for recognition, respect and overall decent work,” she said in her acceptance speech.

Shirley Pryce is a key founder of domestic workers’ unions in Jamaica, the Caribbean and globally, platforms she used to galvanise support for the adoption of the ILO convention.
She recently told The Gleaner how she became ‘militant’ in Geneva to win ‘respect’ for domestic workers. “I am not afraid to speak. I remember when I was in Geneva in 2011; I was dubbed the no-nonsense, hard-talking Jamaican activist, because I wasn’t afraid to speak. When I went to Geneva, we blocked the roads there. We were not afraid.”

Meanwhile, Pryce noted that her ‘fight’ continues, as based on ILO data, there are more than 100 million domestic workers in the world who do not get benefits that other workers get, such as maternity leave, sick leave, health insurance, and leave with pay.
“Although, in some areas, there have been improvements, the one thing that remains the same is that domestic work is not recognised as real work. Even though some countries have taken the important step to introduce legislation, a lot more is needed in enforcement,” she added.