At National Women’s Advisory Council’s Luncheon Campbell upholds the value of strong partnerships, stronger communities

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Former Heads of the Women’s Desk and Bureau of Women’s Affairs, along with the two Directors of the more recent Department of Gender and Family Affairs, were recognized for their contributions Friday (December 6, 2019) during the Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development’s/National Women’s Advisory Council’s (NWAC) Luncheon and Artisan Showcase. The event was held as part of the activities commemorating National Observance of the Women’s Suffrage Movement in The Bahamas. Pictured (from left) are: Dr. Jacinta Higgs, Director, Department of Gender and Family Affairs, Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development; Mrs. Coralee Adderley, Chairperson, the National Women’s Advisory Council (NWAC); Mrs. Cora Bain-Colebrooke, who served as Head of the Women’s Desk from its inception in 1981 until the year 1999; Minister of Social Services and Urban Development, the Hon. Frankie A. Campbell; Ms. Phedra Rahming, who served as Head of the Bureau of Women’s Affairs from 1999-2010; and Mrs. Barbara Perkins, President of the International Black Women’s Public Policy Institute who was the Guest Speaker. (BIS Photo/Matt Maura)

Minister of Social Services and Urban Development, the Hon. Frankie A. Campbell, told women attending the National Women’s Advisory Council’s (NWAC) Luncheon and Artisan Showcase that as they rebuild their various communities one woman at a time, they should also ensure that the partnerships between boys and girls and men and women are also strengthened. Minister Campbell said stronger partnerships between men and women and boys and girls, lead to stronger families and stronger communities.

Held under the auspices of the Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development, its Department of Gender and Family Affairs and the NWAC, the Luncheon and Artisan Showcase was among the activities commemorating the National Observance of the Women’s Suffrage Movement. It was held under the theme: “Rebuilding Our Community One Woman at A Time.” Minister Campbell said, as the Minister responsible for Gender Affairs, he is committed to the further advancement of women in every area and aspiration of their lives. He said it is his objective to increase every effort for The Bahamas to achieve the full implementation of the United Nation’s Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the Committee’s recommendations to promote and protect the rights of women and girls in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, and to achieve many of the goals, targets and indicators of the 2015 Sustainable Development Goals.

“Let me reiterate that what we are attempting to do in bringing equity and equality for women, is not in competition against the men, and should not be perceived as occurring at the expense of men,” Minister Campbell said. “I urge the men to join me (in the Movement towards gender equity and equality) because for those of us who are fathers of girls, we are surely in need of boys who will make eligible husbands. And so as we pursue equity and equality for our women and girls, we dare not leave our young men behind because the partnership will never be complete without them.” Minister Campbell told the attendees that while the goals and objectives of the Women’s Suffrage Movement focused on gaining/securing the enfranchisement of Bahamian women through the right to vote, in addition to economic, political and social reform, leaders and participants in the Movement also understood the value of partnerships – men with women.

“I urge you, as you continue to stand on the shoulders of our victorious, historic women, to be mindful that their Movement was in pursuit of partnerships and that true success will only come when those partnerships are realized,” Minister Campbell said. Minister Campbell reiterated his “gratitude” for the roles all of the government and women’s non-governmental organizations, stakeholders and partners are playing in the fight to ensure equity and equality for women and girls and men and boys, in addition to the roles many of those same groupings continue to play in the fight to end Gender-Based Violence, in the first instance, and violence in general. The Social Services Minister said there is “room for everyone” to participate in what he called “ this Movement.”

“I am grateful to everyone who is playing a role. Ensure the Movement continues. I say to you that there is room for everyone to participate. Invite all hands on deck because there is something for everyone to do to ensure that you keep moving and that your voices are continuously heard as it pertains to your percentage.  And since your percentage stands at 53 per cent and ours is only 47, your voices should be heard more loudly.” Minister Campbell said the seeds for what has now blossomed into this new Movement, were sown in 1981 with the establishment of the Women’s Desk, which later became the Women’s Bureau and more recently, the Department of Gender and Family Affairs.

The Women’s Desk was established in 1981 and headed by Mrs. Cora Bain-Colebrooke, 1981-1999.  Currently the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Public Works, Mrs. Colebrooke was followed by Ms. Phedra Rahming, 1999-2010, and Ms. Christine Campbell, 2010-2016. Ms. Rahming currently serves as the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development. Ms Gaynell Curry served as the first Director of the Department of Gender and Family Affairs (2016-2018). Dr. Jacinta Higgs is the current Director of the Department of Gender and Family Affairs. The women were honored for their roles at the Luncheon along with those women who would have served as Chairperson of the National Women’s Advisory Council since its inception in 1985

“Fifty-seven years ago, the Movement for enfranchisement of women began and there have been so many accomplishments since then, individual accomplishments in just about every sphere, in every discipline, with perhaps the only substantive post a woman has not served in yet is that of Prime Minister,” Minister Campbell said to chants from the mostly female audience of ‘soon’ and ‘that’s next.’ “We are in a good time. I urge you to recover, restore and rebuild one woman at a time because remember, to whom much is given much is expected,” Minister Campbell added.

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