Today (8 March) is International Women’s Day and it’s important that we all take a moment to reflect on our role in supporting women and girls of all ages to achieve their ambitions.
Whilst there’s a long way to go before we attain global gender equality, it’s encouraging to note that Jersey is embracing women in senior roles across Government, the private sector, and our many charitable and community organisations.
Not only do we have the highest ever representation of women in the States Assembly at 51%, but three of the most high-profile roles in Jersey are all occupied by women: the Greffier of the States of Jersey, the Chief Executive Officer of the Government of Jersey, and, of course, the position of Chief Minister.
I was honoured to be chosen as Jersey’s first female Chief Minister in July last year and I sincerely hope that my appointment will inspire other women and girls to reach for their dreams.
Of course, it wasn’t always my goal to be the Chief Minister of Jersey. As a young girl, I set out from my family home in a remote part of Devon to be a newscaster… an ambition that was very much out of the ordinary from my rural beginnings. I remember clearly how my A-level Spanish teacher, who encouraged us to debate about politics and society, often remarked ‘you should be Prime Minister’ after particularly lively discussions. It sparked my interest in politics, cemented my ambition to be a newscaster at that time, and quite possibly sowed the seed for my later move into government. It really is amazing how one small comment can motivate and inspire a person for the rest of their lives, even at a subconscious level.
My move into politics came after I had children. I had enjoyed being a newscaster, as it gave me the opportunity to inform people on topics and issues that impact their daily lives, but I found that it left me wanting to help make the decisions rather than report on them. Over a decade later and I am truly grateful to be in the position to make those decisions together with the Council of Ministers, States Assembly, the public sector and our shared ambition to do our best for the people of Jersey.
None of this would have been possible, of course, without the fantastic support and encouragement from family and friends who believed in me when I told them that I wanted to try a career in politics. In their own way, each of them has found the time to encourage me on the difficult days and to keep me grounded on the days when the role of Chief Minister is a heady mix of international events and meetings with politicians who are household names.
It’s this ability to pay it forward that I want to focus on for International Women’s Day. With a little support, we can all encourage our women and girls to achieve great things. All it takes is positive affirmation and the right words, at the right time. We must instil belief in our women and girls; it is the first part of the journey to reaching their goals. They should be encouraged to set their mind to a goal and to have a go at it knowing that they have our full backing and support.
On International Women’s Day, my message to the women and girls of Jersey is to strive for your dreams, reach out for support when you need it, and for all of us to keep pushing for an equal and fair community so we can all thrive.