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  The world’s attention was turned towards Jamaica this week when she swore her first black female Chief of Defense Staff, Rear Admiral Antonette Wemyss Gorman. 
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The event of the change of command ceremony held at Up Park Camp in Kingston on Friday where Rear Admiral Antonette Wemyss Gorman was saluted in the full military parade, will forever remain in the memories of Jamaicans and the rest of the world. The event was pomp and pageantry and in its usual manner, historic. The news was received with great joy and admiration as Jamaica led the way in gender equality and equal rights, and so much talked about equal positions for both genders. For many, most especially those who are slanted towards feminism, womanism, and other gender equality and related ideological movements, this is a big leap towards achieving equality for all sexes.  Being the head of the Jamaican Defence Force (JDF) as a woman is not a mean feat. Further, coming from a Black dominated territory like Jamaica is highly representative for all women of colour in Africa, African Diaspora, the Caribbean and other territories of colour.   Rear Admiral Antonette Wemyss Gorman is well-deserving of her new role, and her track record is awe-inspiring. Being the first female chief of staff in Jamaica, she was also the first female officer to serve at sea, and the first woman to attain the rank of commander in the JDF. Her seagoing commission was the first appointment of a woman to a front-line combat role in the Caribbean. Antonette Wemyss has dedicated fifteen years of her life serving on abroad ships in the Jamaica Coast Guard. Aside from serving as commander of ships, she was Operations Officer and Officer Commanding Shore Base, Second in Command of the JDF Air wing, and preceding her appointment as JDF chief of staff, she was Commanding Officer of the JDF Coast Guard. She was the first woman to reach the rank of commander in the JDF. She was responsible for the founding of the Caribbean Military Maritime Training Centre. In the course of her appointment as the new Chief of Defence Staff, she was promoted to the rank of  Rear Admiral.
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Amazingly, this amazon is an alumna of the US Naval War College and obtained a master’s in National Security and Strategic Studies from the University of the West Indies. The life of Wemyss Gorman and her appointment of the world’s first female Chief of Defence Staff leaves us with so many lessons to be learnt. First, women of colour are women of substance and can be trusted with the most tasking and sensitive roles like national security. In an age where the military is saturated with male folks globally, and quite difficult for women to climb up the ladder of leadership, not because they aren’t interested or striving to do so, but the patriarchal trajectories of our societies limit them, however, Jamaica has set a precedent for the whole world to follow. Not even the United States and Europe in all their gender equality campaigns, movements and crusades, and so much for their feminism advocacy, an unusual country like Jamaica took the bull by the horns, with less talk and more action by entrusting their lives and properties in the hands of the first black female Chief of Defence Staff.  Second, this historic appointment should be an avenue for Nigerian girls and women to draw strength and inspiration to keep fighting to attain the highest peak of their chosen careers. Wemyss Gorman should be a symbol of female power and feminine strength to many Nigerian girls and women. Further, not only applauding her appointment, Nigerian girls and women must also emulate her life of service, personal and professional development as Rear Admiral Wemyss Gorman’s curriculum vitae is outstanding. Featured image: Nationwide 90fm
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This article was first published on 28th January 2022 and updated on January 30th, 2022 at 10:22 pm


Nnaemeka is an academic scholar with a degree in History and International Studies from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He is also a creative writer, content creator, storyteller, and social analyst.

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