Under the theme, “Challenges and Opportunities in Achieving Gender Equality and Empowerment of Rural Women and Girls,” the Women’s Forum was held at the Harry C. Moore auditorium at University of The Bahamas in honor of the 44th Annual International Women’s Day. Women of different nationalities and backgrounds from parliamentarians to students, teachers, farmers, straw vendors gathered Thursday morning, March 8, 2018, to — according to Chairperson of the National Women’s Advisory Council Carolie Adderley — “recognize all women regardless of race, nationality, political status.” Minister of Social Services and Urban Development, the Hon. Lanisha T. Rolle, MP welcomed everyone and urged them to “make the best of this moment.” She thanked the following speakers: Winisha Saunders, who represented the Junior Parliamentarians, Diamond Pearson of the Debutante Foundation and Kendira Rahming, an independent speaker from Cat Island. She recognized the remarkableness of several women including the Hon. Janet Bostwick, Condoleezza Rice, Cynthia “Mother Pratt”, Hillary Clinton, and Her Excellency Dame Marguerite Pindling.
Minister Rolle challenged women and girls to be positive, optimistic and to see that silver lining. She also brought focus to the admirable resilience of women on the Family Islands who face adversities such as natural disasters, limited health care, limited mobility on the islands, and limited flights to and from the islands. Minister Rolle asked all women over 60 years old to stand so that she could salute them on behalf of all Bahamian women for being the matriarchs who set a strong foundation for other women to build upon. She recognized the presence of the wife of Leader of the Official Opposition Philip “Brave” Davis – Mrs. Ann Marie Davis. She also thanked the few men present for their strides in history.
In closing, Minister Rolle wished everyone a happy International Women’s Day and requested that we “build upon the foundation that has already been made.” The audience was able to hear from panelists including Dr. Nicola Virgill Rolle of the Economic Development Planning Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister; M. Kenrica Hepburn, a farmer and office manager at the Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources in Cat Island; India Wells, a talented student at NGM Major High School in Long Island; and Charles Moss, a Family Island Administrator at the Department of Local Government. Each panelist highlighted the many great accomplishments of women throughout The Bahamas. A slide show was also presented to the audience to show appreciation for several different female leaders while paying special attention to rural women on the Family Islands who make great strides with and without the help of technology.