Seven women were among the 10 outstanding Jamaicans conferred with the nation’s fifth highest honour, the Order of Jamaica OJ, during yesterday’s Ceremony of Investiture and Presentation of National Honours and Awards.

It is the first time that a majority of the OJ award recipients, in one year, are women.

They are Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Olivia Grange, for her contribution to cultural development and political administration; Olympian, Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce, for outstanding performance in the field of athletics at the international level; Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Audrey Sewell for her distinguished contribution to public service.

Also conferred with the OJ are Joan Duncan (posthumously) for distinguished service to the banking sector and development of the money market; Rita Humphries-Lewin for contribution to the financial sector, in particular, the stockbroking industry; and Professor Maureen Samms-Vaughan for pioneering research, clinical work and policy development in child health, child development and behaviour.

Actress and cultural ambassador, Sheryl Lee Ralph, received the Honorary OJ for her sterling contribution to the international film industry.

Overall, 221 Jamaicans were recognised for their service and significant impact on national life at the ceremony held on the lawns of King’s House.

The National Heroes Day event was held face-to-face for the first time since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.