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International Women’s Day – Women’s Employment Equality in the Falkland Islands

For over a century, March 8th has been celebrated as International Women’s Day. What began as a series of events and strikes by working class women has developed over the years into a celebration of women across the world, and a platform to highlight causes that primarily affect women. This year’s theme is, “Equality for Women is Progress for All.”

There are benefits with having a small, close knit community with virtually full employment; everyone contributes to making the economy and society function well.    47.5% of the Falkland Islands population are women and these women are engaged in a broad spectrum of professions and across all managerial levels.  We’re proud to say that the Falklands’ community values Islanders who strive to fill key roles, in both the public and private sector, whether they are male or female.

“This has been the situation for as long as I can remember and certainly for the last 40 years of my working life,” explains Phyl Rendell, one of two female elected Members of the Legislative Assembly of the Falkland Islands. “Perhaps I was fortunate to enter the teaching profession initially where I always enjoyed equality with my male colleagues. There may have been some quirky codes of conduct back then (including lady teachers only wearing skirts, but that was overcome in the 1970’s when we were all in it together!) Working in Falkland Islands Government (FIG) management post-1982 was, I am pleased to say, on equal terms and you could wear trousers!”

Jodi Aldridge is the Senior Accounting Assistant for the Falkland Islands Government Treasury. Having spent five years in private sector banking, Jodi moved to the Treasury as Accounting Assistant in 2012. Now responsible for the administration of two Government pension schemes in the Islands, Jodi is also studying with ACCA in order to gain her accountancy qualifications.  Having spent her childhood growing up in the Camp (Falkland Islands countryside) before studying overseas in the UK, Jodi is no stranger to making an effort to get to where she wants to be, “In the Falklands there is no divide between males and females within the work place, as long as an individual is prepared to work hard they can progress taking advantage of the opportunities which become available to them.”

Luckily for Jodi, she has an incredibly supportive Head of Department in the form of Nic Granger, Financial Secretary of the Falkland Islands and the Government of South Georgia & The South Sandwich Islands. Nic is responsible for the formulation and execution of fiscal and financial policy, strategy and management for FIG including the roles of Director of Finance, Commissioner of Taxation and Commissioner of Currency.  As Financial Secretary she sits as one of two ex-officio members of the Executive Council and Legislative Assembly.

Although not originally from the Islands, Nic arrived as a Temporary Accountant in 2007, and has steadily worked up to her current role. Through her years working for FIG, Nic has implemented working and childcare credit scheme in order to assist lower earners and proposed changes to pension schemes to ensure they are sustainable.  A keen supporter of coaching and mentoring Nic has recently co-founded a mentoring scheme for trainee accountants across the South Atlantic Islands.

In 2009, the Falkland Islands introduced a new constitution, to reflect the changes made in the Islands as the years went by, and highlighting our commitment to modernity, democracy and human rights. Chapter One of the Constitution ensures, “every person is entitled to the fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual, that is to say, the right, without distinction of any kind, such as sex, sexual orientation, race, colour, language, religion.” Falkland Islanders are dedicated to maintaining these values and we are proud to hold such ideals at the forefront of all we do.

“Because of the nature of our community, as it has evolved over the last 40-50 years, we value equality in a way that women who grew up before then could only have dreamed about.”  MLA Jan Cheek.

For more information about International Women’s Day, see: http://www.internationalwomensday.com/