Members of the House of Assembly went “Orange” Wednesday in commemoration of the International Day For the Elimination of Violence Against Women and Girls and the 16 Days of Activism For the Elimination of Violence Against Women and Girls. The events are part of the activities surrounding the national observance of the 57th Anniversary of the Women’s Suffrage Movement in The Bahamas. International Day For the Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls was commemorated in countries around the globe – The Bahamas included — on Monday, November 25, with the launch of the 16 Days of Activism Campaign (also known as the 16 Days Campaign).
Representatives from more than 25 women’s non-governmental groups across The Bahamas, in addition to officials from the Department of Gender and Family Affairs, Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development, joined members of the Zonta Club in Parliament Square for Monday’s Launch.
House Speaker, the Hon. D. Halson Moultrie — who attended the launch along with his wife, Mrs. Kim Moultrie, applauded Zonta for their leading role in the 16 Days Campaign. Zonta is celebrating 100 years this year. “On Monday, I had the opportunity to attend the celebration in Parliament Square and I was really astonished by the testimonies of some of the women as a consequence of some of the things they had experienced during their lifetimes,” Speaker Moultrie told House Members. “It was a touching occasion for me that I think I will never ever forget.” Minister of Social Services and Urban Development, the Hon. Frankie A. Campbell, who has remit for gender affairs through the Department of Gender and Family Affairs, also applauded the work of Zonta.
“Mr. Speaker, Zonta is attempting to paint New Providence and The Bahamas orange which is the international colour of this Movement. The women who are here today – a beautiful group of women from a broad cross-section who have come together to ensure the empowerment of women – are here in support of Zonta. “Women, who represent diverse backgrounds, women who represent diverse professions, but women who have this one thing in common – realizing and appreciating the need to come together and to transcend all of those barriers to ensure the collective good for women and girls. I am humbled for the privilege to be a part of this grouping; for the privilege of knowing that I have the support of such a committed and dedicated group of women,” Minister Campbell added.
Member of Parliament for Englerston, the Hon. Glenys Hanna-Martin, also joined in welcoming the various female non-governmental groupings to Parliament. (Also present was Mrs. Rubyann Cooper-Darling, first woman to represent a Family Island (Exuma). Mrs. Cooper-Darling was also the first Bahamian female to vote in a General Election.) “I want to commend Zonta in general because they have steadied the course on this issue about girls and women and it has been uncompromising and uninterrupted and fervent and faithful and for that I thank them,” Mrs. Hanna-Martin said. “I also want to recognize that it is the anniversary of the first time women voted in this country. Both events – the 16 Days of Activism, and commemorating the enfranchisement of women – is a celebration, but it is also a very somber time because I think that women always have to be cognizant that we have much ground to cover and that we must continue the sustained effort.
“We know that we are the largest in the electorate, but we know also that despite that, we continue to be most represented living in poverty; that we continue to be heading households and raising children singularly, facing all of the challenges that come with that; we know that we continue to be those who are the (largest) targets of domestic violence in homes and with partners, and that we continue to be most vulnerable to sexual violence. “These are very serious devastating realities that we must keep in the fore of our minds and continue the struggle,” Mrs. Hanna Martin added.