Minister of Social Services and Urban Development, the Hon. Obie Wilchcombe said Bahamian women broke the proverbial ‘glass ceiling’ a long, long time ago, adding that throughout the years in the nation, women have been recognized and celebrated for their accomplishments.
During a special concert on Saturday, October 29th at Jubilee Cathedral, observing the culmination of ‘Older Persons Month,’ Minister Wilchcombe highlighted the achievements of Bahamian women throughout the years, in various areas of life, pointing out the fact that the Bahamian woman has done much to build The Bahamas we know today.
Marking 60 years next month, he said, “our country will pause and celebrate the anniversary of women voting for the first time in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas,” said Minister Wilchcombe. “Earlier this year, we celebrated 40 years of a woman (Janet Bostwick) being elected for the first time in Parliament.
“That’s why this event is so special, because it is also on the eve of the celebration of our 50th Independence anniversary.
“Independence of a nation that has been able to grow from Inagua to Bimini and all of our people provided with opportunities and given the chance to be whatever they want in this country. Not a country of perfection, but in search of perfection. Along the route to perfection, we have people like you who stand, who encourage, who push and who tell us that we can do it.”
The Older Persons Month concert gave special focus to older women and their accomplishments within their respective islands and communities. Seventeen Grand Bahamian women were honored in various areas, including politics, education, civics, economics, social and cultural arenas.
“The women we honor here tonight represent the backbone; represent all of us who have been able to move on and achieve in our society,” added Minister Wilchcombe. “Many years ago, when we didn’t believe, as a nation, that we couldn’t achieve, the women were the ones who were working. The women led the crusade for change.”
He recalled the point in Bahamian history when women sought to have the right to speak to the Parliament about liberation, about civil liberties, about equality, about opportunities and about the simple request for the right to vote.
When those women were denied that request, they took their matter to the Magistrate’s Court, after some time, Dame Doris Johnson got the opportunity to stand and address the Parliament of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas. “What determination!” said Minister Wilchcombe. “Such was the determination of three women from Cat Island, who decided to take on the authorities of the country who told them that the land they thought they owned was not theirs, and [they] had their land stolen from them. The women protested and spent several weeks in prison, because they stood up for what they believed in.
“What about the fact that when women of our country travelled the world to participate in international sporting activities? Well, we won our first gold at the Olympics because of the ‘Golden Girls’.
“Throughout our country, we must celebrate the fact that The Bahamas has a foundation of very strong women. Look at the collection of women here – whether its in education, the church, civic duties, in providing cuisine for others to celebrate and in sports – just think,” he said, others can now come along and ‘stand on their shoulders’.
The Social Services and Urban Development Minister noted that while many Bahamian women of the past were trail blazing a new path for those who were to come, there were many women who did not have the kinds of opportunities that women enjoy today: however, because of the determination and drive of Bahamian women decades ago, many women of today have gone on to higher acclaim both nationally and internationally.
“I’m happy to be a part of this celebration and I don’t refer to you as older women or women who have crossed the threshold of a particular age, but I see you simply as phenomenal women. I see you as mothers, as sisters, as the builders and the individuals who used your talents, gifts and made our country one of the greatest countries in the world.”
By ANDREW COAKLEYBahamas Information Services