Bob Marley promoted women equality.

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18 Karat Reggae Gold 2021 : ONENESS
18 Karat Reggae Gold 2021 : ONENESS
Bob Marley
Bob Marley

As the United States moved to enact legislation that would provide for gender equality and protect civil liberties for women, Marley assembled a team of talented female vocalists to back him on his 1974 album, Natty Dread. His endorsement of the I-Three laid the foundation for Rita Marley, Marcia Griffiths and Judy Mowatt, trailblazers who each went on to have prolific careers in music.

Griffiths was a solo act prior to joining the I-Three, Mowatt had been a member of another group, while Rita Marley had begun her career with the Soulettes before joining her would-be-husband on stage. Collaboration with Marley catapulted them into music success and earned for them a place in history.

Touring with Bob, recording with Bob, was a spiritual experience. I tell people all the time what a privilege it was just being part of his movement,” Griffiths said in a 2003 interview with a Jamaican publication. Marley brought women into the conversation on social justice, giving his own singers a platform to be heard. Songs like Could You Be Loved, and No Woman, No Cry, empowered women of colour to seek independence and focus on self-reliance.

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For Mowatt, working with Marley was more than music. The 1979 European tour was an opportunity to prove that Marley was also an equal opportunity employer.

“It was when he was playing these big stadiums. He made us open the shows for him and we did backup later, and he paid us for both, which was really honorable,” she said.

Marley’s support for female empowerment is time honoured, and the legacy lives on through the Bob Marley Foundation. Along with being a female-led organisation, the foundation has made countless contributions to support women in sports and music through its fund-raising efforts.

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For the 2016 Bob Marley Birthday celebrations, the foundation has announced a new partnership with the Sandals Foundation in support of an organisation called Women Helping Others Achieve.

The Bob Marley Foundation has also teamed up with beer company Red Stripe, which has given a $1 million-dollar donation to Jamaica’s Reggae Girlz for the development of the national women’s football team.



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    • “Touring with Bob, recording with Bob, was a spiritual experience. I tell people all the time what a privilege it was just being part of his movement,” Griffiths said in a 2003 interview with a Jamaican publication. ” Did you miss that part of the article? Which Jamaican publication do you think we were referring to? Or did you want us to call name or do a link back?

  1. I love Bob & am a longtime fan of his music & social message. That said, it’s laughable that he supported women’s equality. When asked in one interview about women’s place in the reggae movement, he laughed in a condescending manner & brushed the question off, claiming women’s place was “supporting men & bearing children” or something similar. He calls women queens & ‘mothers of creation’ but then proceeds to cheat on every woman he ever dated while not giving them that same freedom. He’s as famous for his philandering & womanizing as for his music. 13 kids by nearly as many women? Not exactly respectful to the mothers of his children!

    Anyone who doubts this should read Rita’s memoir. She was closer to Bob for longer than anyone else & provides a shocking account of him sexually assaulting her during their marriage when she refused him sex due to his rampant cheating. His own kids back up the claims of him being a cold, distant father who inflicted pain on the family with his poor treatment of Rita in the “Marley” documentary.

    I’m all for remembering Bob for the good things he did, but revisionist history does him no favors. Bob was no saint but a mere mortal who was fallible like the rest of us. He hired the I-Threes only after the original male Wailers dropped out of the group & he was in a tough spot with no backup singers. And the example of him paying the women for their work as being so honorable is really sad & only proves how little the women think of themselves. Everyone should be paid for their work. That goes without saying.

    It sounds like the bar is really low for women’s rights in Jamaican culture.

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