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SEVEN JAMAICAN WOMEN CHANGING THE WORLD

THESE DYNAMIC JAMAICAN WOMEN ARE MAKING HUGE CONTRIBUTIONS TO POLITICS, ARTS AND SPORTS, AND WE SALUTE THEM DURING THIS INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S MONTH.

 

RITA MARLEY

RITA MARLEY HAS ACCOMPLISHED SO MANY THINGS IN HER OWN RIGHT. SHE’S KNOWN AS THE “QUEEN OF REGGAE,” AND IT’S NO WONDER: HER SONG “ONE DRAW” SOLD OVER TWO MILLION COPIES, AND IT MADE HISTORY AS THE FIRST REGGAE SINGLE TO TOP THE BILLBOARD DANCE CHARTS. HER 1992 ALBUM WE MUST CARRY ON WAS NOMINATED FOR A GRAMMY. 

 

SHE HAS HONORED HER LATE HUSBAND’S MEMORY IN A MYRIAD OF WAYS. SHE TRANSFORMED HIS HOUSE AT 56 HOPE ROAD IN KINGSTON, JAMAICA, INTO THE BOB MARLEY MUSEUM. WITH HER PURCHASE OF THE FORMER FEDERAL RECORDS AT MARCUS GARVEY DRIVE AND RELOCATION OF TUFF GONG INTERNATIONAL TO THIS NEW ADDRESS, THE ORGANIZATION IS NOW THE CARIBBEAN’S LEADING RECORD MANUFACTURING AND DISTRIBUTION COMPANY. SHE ALSO FOUNDED THEBOB MARLEY FOUNDATION AND THE RITA MARLEY FOUNDATION, AND IS THE HEAD OF THE ETHIOPIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH BUILDING FUND, WHICH ESTABLISHED THE BERHAME SELASSIE HOME FOR THE AGED. SHE HAS ADOPTED 35 CHILDREN IN ETHIOPIA, AND WORKS TO IMPROVE THEIR LIVES. IN 2004 SHE WAS AWARDED PERSONALITY OF THE YEAR IN GHANA IN RECOGNITION OF HER PHILANTHROPIC WORK, AND SHE’S SINCE RECEIVED AN HONORARY GHANAIAN CITIZENSHIP FROM THE GOVERNMENT OF GHANA. THE JAMAICAN GOVERNMENT ALSO AWARDED HER THE ORDER OF DISTINCTION, CONFERRED “UPON CITIZENS OF JAMAICA WHO HAVE RENDERED OUTSTANDING AND IMPORTANT SERVICES TO JAMAICA, OR TO DISTINGUISHED CITIZENS OF A COUNTRY OTHER THAN JAMAICA.”

 

CEDELLA MARLEY

BOB AND RITA MARLEY’S FIRST-BORN CHILD OFTEN SAYS SHE’S PROUD TO BE A MEMBER OF THIS FAMILY. HER ACTIONS SHOW HER COMMITMENT, NOT ONLY TO THE MARLEY LEGACY, BUT TO THE MARLEY VALUES OF JUSTICE AND PEACE. IN SEPTEMBER, CEDELLA PUBLISHED HER LATEST CHILDREN’S BOOK, GET UP, STAND UP, WHICH INCORPORATES THE LYRICS OF BOB MARLEY’S ICONIC ANTHEM INTO A BRILLIANTLY COLORFUL STORY. SHE IS AMPLIFYING A KEY VALUE HER PARENTS SHARED WITH HER, AND ONE SHE PASSED ON TO HER OWN THREE SONS—THAT PROUDLY STANDING UP FOR YOURSELF AND OTHERS IS THE BEST WAY TO CURB BULLYING. A PORTION OF THE PROCEEDS GOES TO THE ANTIBULLING ORGANIZATION NO BULLY. SHE ALSO WROTE THE COOKBOOK COOKING WITH HERB: 75 RECIPES FOR THE MARLEY NATURAL LIFESTYLE, WHICH OFFERS DELICIOUS WAYS TO COOK WITH CANNABIS AND START TO FEEL THE HERB’S MANY BENEFITS. 

 

CEDELLA HAS ALSO BEEN A CONSTANT CHAMPION OF JAMAICA’S WOMEN’S NATIONAL SOCCER TEAM, THE “REGGAE GIRLZ.” TO RAISE AWARENESS ABOUT THE TEAM, CEDELLA RELEASED A CATCHY SONG IN 2014 CALLED “STRIKE HARD,” WHICH SHE SANG ALONG WITH HER BROTHERS STEPHEN AND DAMIAN. IN TANDEM, SHE AIDED AN INDIGOGO CAMPAIGN, MATCHING EACH DOLLAR WITH $100 OF HER OWN MONEY, EVENTUALLY REACHING THEIR GOAL OF $50,000. IN ADVANCE OF THE 2019 WORLD CUP, CEDELLA BROUGHT THE GIRLS TO SOUTH FLORIDA, WHERE THEY HELD FUNDRAISERS, AUCTIONS, PEP RALLIES AND SCRIMMAGES TO RAISE THE REMAINING MONEY NEEDED TO GET TO FRANCE.  

 

PORTIA SIMPSON MILLER, FORMER PRIME MINISTER OF JAMAICA

JAMAICA’S FIRST FEMALE PRIME MINISTER SERVED FROM 2006-2007, AND AGAIN FROM 2012-2016, AND IS GENERALLY ACKNOWLEDGED AS ONE OF THE MOST POPULAR PRIME MINISTERS IN THE CARIBBEAN. AS SHE ROSE UP THE POLITICAL RANKS SHE OVERSAW REFORM OF JAMICA’S OVERSEAS FARMWORKER EMPLOYMENT PROGRAMS, AND SHE WAS A PUBLIC SUPPORTER OF THE COUNTRY’S ATHLETIC TEAMS, ESTABLISHING THE SPORTS DEVELOPMENT FOUNDATION, WHICH SUPPORTED SPORTS PROGRAMS AND FUNDED NEW STADIUMS. DURING HER SECOND TERM AS PRIME MINISTER, THE GOVERNMENT BEGAN REFORMING ITS DRUG LAWS, DECRIMINALIZING THE POSSESSION OF SMALL AMOUNTS OF MARIJUANA. HER PERSONAL ANTHEM? SHAGGY’S “STRENGTH OF A WOMAN.”

 

SHELLY-ANN FRASER-PRYCE, OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST

AT 21 YEARS OLD, FRASER-PRYCE (KNOWN AS THE “POCKET ROCKET”) BECAME THE FIRST CARIBBEAN WOMAN TO WIN THE GOLD MEDAL FOR THE 100-METER RACE AT THE BEIJING 2008 OLYMPICS. AT THE 2012 OLYMPICS, SHE DEFENDED HER TITLE IN THE EVENT AND BECAME THE FIRST NON-AMERICAN WOMAN TO WIN TWO CONSECUTIVE 100-METER RACES AT THE OLYMPIC GAMES. SHE CREATED MORE HISTORY AT THE 2013 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS IN MOSCOW, WINNING THE 100-METER, 200-METER AND 4 X 100-METER EVENTS, BECOMING THE FIRST WOMAN TO COMPLETE THE TRIPLE IN A SINGLE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP. SHE IS RANKED FOURTH IN A LIST OF THE 100 FASTEST FEMALE SPRINTERS IN HISTORY. FRASER-PRYCE CONTINUES TO MAKE JAMAICA PROUD: IN 2010 SHE WAS APPOINTED THE FIRST NATIONAL GOODWILL AMBASSADOR FOR UNICEF JAMAICA.

 

GRACE JONES, SUPERMODEL, ACTOR AND SINGER

THERE IS ONLY ONE GRACE JONES. HER ICONIC LOOK AND FIERCE ATTITUDE HAVE BEEN ADMIRED AND COPIED, BUT SHE IS TRULY IN A CLASS ALL HER OWN. AS A SUPERMODEL IN PARIS IN THE ’70S SHE ESTABLISHED HER ANDROGYNOUS STYLE, AND WHEN SHE MOVED TO NEW YORK SHE BECAME A MUSE OF ANDY WARHOL’S AND A DISCO QUEEN AT STUDIO 54. IN THE ’80S SHE STARTED PUTITNG OUT ALBUMS, INCLUDING “NIGHTCLUBBING,” WHICH RANKED ON THE US BILLBOARD MAINSTREAM ALBUMS AND R&B CHARTS. SHE SHOWED OFF HER SIGNATURE PERSONA IN MOVIES LIKE CONAN THE DESTROYER AND THE BOND FILM, A VIEW TO KILL. HER AUTOBIOGRAPHY, I’LL NEVER WRITE MY MEMOIRS, A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER, OFFERS A DETAILED ACCOUNT OF HER CAREER AND CHILDHOOD, GROWING UP IN SPANISH TOWN, JAMAICA. IN IT SHE PRINTED HER TOUR RIDER, IN WHICH SHE NOT ONLY DEMANDS PLATTERS OF SUSHI AND SASHIMI AND BOTTLES OF LOUIS ROEDERER CRISTAL CHAMPAGNE, BUT A DOZEN OYSTERS ON ICE AND AN OYSTER KNIFE, BECAUSE “GRACE DOES HER OWN SHUCKING.” ALL HAIL THE QUEEN. 

 

NICOLA YOON

NICOLA YOON IS ONE OF THE WORLD’S PREEMINENENT YOUNG ADULT AUTHORS. TWO OF HER YOUNG ADULT ROMANCE NOVELS — EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING AND THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR — BECAME NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLERS WITH HOLLYWOOD ADAPTATIONS. THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR WAS ALSO A NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST, AND WAS ON THE LOS ANGELES TIMES’S LIST OF THE 10 MOST IMPORTANT BOOKS OF 2016. READERS AND CRITICS RESPONDED TO ITS IMMIGRATION ANGLE: THE MAIN CHARACTER, NATASHA KINSLEY, INTRODUCES HERSELF BY SAYING, “I’M A GIRL WHO BELIEVES IN SCIENCE AND FACTS. NOT FATE. NOT DESTINY. OR DREAMS THAT WILL NEVER COME TRUE. I’M DEFINITELY NOT THE KIND OF GIRL WHO MEETS A CUTE BOY ON A CROWDED NEW YORK CITY STREET AND FALLS IN LOVE WITH HIM. NOT WHEN MY FAMILY IS TWELVE HOURS AWAY FROM BEING DEPORTED TO JAMAICA. FALLING IN LOVE WITH HIM WON’T BE MY STORY.” LIKE NATASHA, YOON MOVED FROM JAMAICA TO AMERICA WITH HER FAMILY WHEN SHE WAS A KID BECAUSE HER FATHER WANTED TO PURSUE HIS DREAM. AND THE BOOK’S MESSAGES OF IMMIGRATION AND LOVE HAVE GROWN ONLY MORE RELEVANT IN THE PAST FEW YEARS. 

 

ALEXANDRA CHONG

ALEXANDRA CHONG IS THE FOUNDER AND CEO OF JACANA, THE FIRST COMPANY TO EXPORT MEDICAL CANNABIS INTERNATIONALLY FROM JAMAICA, HER NATIVE COUNTRY, WHERE SHE ESTABLISHED THE COMPANY’S FLAGSHIP 4.4 MILLION SQUARE FOOT FARM. THE OUTDOOR FARM IS SUPPLEMENTED WITH MANUFACTURING FACILITIES AND TESTING LABS IN THE COUNTRY, AND THE BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT IS RUN OUT OF LONDON, AIMING TO SUPPLY THE EUROPEAN MEDICAL CANNABIS MARKET. SHE STARTED THE COMPANY IN 2017, JUST TWO YEARS AFTER CANNABIS HAD BEEN LEGALIZED IN HER HOME COUNTRY. CHONG’S GOALS ARE TO WIN THE MARKET SHARE BATTLE WITH “BIG PHARMA,” AND TO “CREATE A GLOBAL MEDICAL CANNABIS COMPANY PROVIDING NOT JUST JAMAICAN CANNABIS, BUT JAMAICAN CANNABIS PRODUCED IN AN OUTDOOR, SUN-GROWN ENVIRONMENT.” SHE WAS PREVIOUSLY THE FOUNDER AND CEO OF LULU, A MOBILE DATING APP THAT LETS WOMEN REVIEW AND RATE MEN ANONYMOUSLY.


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