Social Services Minister Extends Challenge

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Minister of Social Services and Urban Development, the Hon. Frankie A. Campbell, with Mrs. Rubyann Cooper-Darling (right), who in 1962 became the first Bahamian woman to register to vote at the age of 21. The right to register to vote came on the heels of the Women’s Suffrage Movement’s fight for equal rights for all women in The Bahamas. At left is Dr. Jacinta Higgs, Director, Department of Gender and Family Affairs, Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development. (BIS Photo/Matt Maura)

The only way the equity and the equality that women in The Bahamas yearn for, dream about, and/or speak of, is going to come to fruition is if women decide take up the mantle and support women as a collective front, Minister of Social Services and Urban Development, the Hon. Frankie A. Campbell said. Addressing an Awards Ceremony and Luncheon held as part of the local observance of International Women’s Day, Friday (March 8, 2019) at the National Training Agency, Minister Campbell said while Bahamian women have amassed many high achievements, individually, there are still many more collective achievements that are within reach; still worth fighting for. “I am satisfied that while there are not necessarily any glass ceilings in The Bahamas for our women, there is still the need for a movement as there are still many collective achievements that are still within reach, that are still worth fighting for,” Minister Campbell said.

“And so I challenge you women to come together, to put some pressure and ensure that there is some policy; some legislation; some statute that that will say that whenever Parliament convenes, there must be a certain amount of women. That there is some policy that will say that whenever a fund is established, a certain percentage must be secured for women. That whenever the pie is being sliced, your piece of the pie is secured. “I further challenge you to not put me or any other Minister in the position of having to tell the international community that women comprise 54 per cent of the electorate, and yet still a Bill relative to women, fails because women did not support it. I commend all here present. Your being here today is a sign of your solidarity with this movement,” Minister Campbell added.

Minister Campbell told the crowded facility that Bahamians should be justifiably proud of the many achievements of Bahamian women across many sectors of society. “Women have excelled in every area of our society. As of May 2018, 68 percent of positions of Justices, 83 percent of Registrars, and 57 percent of Magistrates are women. In politics, five percent of Cabinet Ministers, 12 percent of Parliamentarians and 43 percent of Senators are women.  In education, 68 percent of the positions of Principal of private high schools, and 62 percent of Principals of public high schools are women.

“In the Public and Private Sectors of Health, 45 percent of the Physicians and 75 percent of Hospital Administrators are female.  In the category of the Public Service, 78 percent of Directors, 31 percent of Family Island Administrators and 9 percent of Chief Councilors are women. Additionally, 65 percent of Permanent Secretaries are women, and the Secretary to the Cabinet is a woman. “Women have excelled in many other fields, including the arts, sports and in traditionally male-dominated fields,” Minister Campbell added. More, Minister Campbell said, can be done from a collective standpoint.

“The United Nations theme for International Women’s Day is: ‘Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change.’ We have also included the hash tag: ‘Balance for Better.’ The theme echoes the clarion call for all sectors of our society to be creative and innovative in bringing about gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. The Department of Gender and Family Affairs of my ministry continues to strengthen relationships with its national, regional and international partners (to ensure this happens).

“Today, The Bahamas joins 190 countries around the world in celebrating International Women’s Day which is set aside to celebrate the achievements of women as well as reflect on the issues and challenges that face our women and girls. This is also a time to pause and celebrate the various roles that women play in our country.

“Today, we applaud and salute 29 hardworking, outstanding women of The Bahamas for their tenacity and strength. These women have poured out their spirits, love, generosity and talents into urban communities here in New Providence.

“I salute our honorees. I salute you for what you have done. I salute you for what you will continue to do. I extend much gratitude to you. I pray God’s continued blessing upon you. I pray that the communities you serve will value the service that you give. I pray that the characteristics you exhibit will leave an indelible mark on many in our communities, particularly our young men and women,” Minister Campbell added.

Officials of the National Women’s Advisory Council (NWAC) were among the many women who filled the National Training Agency for the International Women’s Day Awards Ceremony and Luncheon hosted by the Urban Renewal Commission and Department of Gender and Family Affairs, Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development, Friday, March 8. NWAC President, Mrs. Coralie Adderley, is at far left. (BIS Photo/Matt Maura)

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