ON THE OCCASION OF INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY
MARCH 8, 2013
HON. DELMA THOMAS,
MINISTER FOR SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT, HOUSING AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT
Brothers and sisters, centuries ago, women all over the world began a struggle for the right to essential basic things: - the right to have paid employment; the right to be treated humanely in the workplace; the right to vote; the right to hold public office; the right to receive an education; and so on. Alongside that struggle, women were calling for an end to the wars, slavery, injustice and discrimination. As a result, the need for global attention was recognised, and International Women's Day was born.
As we mark International Women's Day, today March 8th, which we in Grenada began celebrating at about 1980, we must remember that the successes made by women and for women in Grenada were achieved slowly, but we are leading in many ways: an achievement that we must be proud of.
In education, we note that the first secondary school, St Joseph's Convent, St George's, was the first secondary institution built on the island. Women and girls came to realise that the way up and out of poverty was through education at the highest level. Louise Rowley recognised this when, though one of the most qualified young persons in Grenada at the time, she was passed over and given lower jobs than her qualification, while her male counterparts were soaring ahead. But she was not daunted. She worked well and her intelligence and skills were eventually recognised. Right here, in her homeland, she moved on to become the first female Permanent Secretary in the English-speaking Caribbean, since 1956, serving in the Ministry of Social Affairs, which included health, education, labour community development and social welfare.
There are many other Grenadian women who paved the way for women in public life. We acknowledge women like Eva Sylvester in politics, Monica Joseph in law, Jeanette Du Bois in trade unionism, Margaret Neckles in the Senate, Nadica Mc Intyre in cricket, Juliana Aird in business, and many others. On the international stage, we had Dame Hilda Bynoe, the first female Governor in the Commonwealth; and Jennifer Hosten, the first black woman to win the prominent Miss World title. More recently, Dr. Nicole Phillip, was recognised as one of the Top Fifty Distinguished Alumni and, this year, was awarded by the University of the West Indies for her best-selling book "Women in Grenadian History: 1783 to 1983".
Their success has shown us that women's rights and gender equality are advancing in Grenada. Women can be found in almost every occupation and at every level of leadership in our country. And so today, we celebrate that the majority of our Permanent Secretaries, Magistrates and Judges are women; and one of the Superintendents of Police is also a woman. Women lead entities like the Trades Union Council, the Chamber of Industry and Commerce, the Inter-Agency Group of Development Organisations and the Industrial Development Corporation.
Moreover, the Parliament of Grenada now has five women. That means that we have achieved the Commonwealth target of at least 30% women in the House of Parliament. This is extended to Cabinet, where four of the twelve members, and the Cabinet Secretary, are women. Therefore we must compliment ourselves, as this is a major accomplishment.
Sisters and brothers, we have much to acknowledge and celebrate!
While women are moving on in public life, we also have much to celebrate in the private life. Women are working steadily as the centre of operations in their families as mother, sister, guardian, breadwinner and caregiver. Women have sacrificed their own ambitions and recreation sometimes to ensure that their family is fed, their children are sent to school, and are given an opportunity to be more successful than they have been.
Women in Grenada can stand tall among the women of the world for our achievements in the family and in public life.
Sisters and brothers, the rights that we now take for granted in Grenada, were fought for, and we must celebrate them. We must be mindful though, that they are not fully achieved and practised. Therefore, we cannot be complacent.
Our government has promised to implement a National Gender Policy; encourage family-friendly work environments; ensure that more women gain leadership skills and positions; enforce the domestic violence and sexual abuse laws and protocol; and enact sexual harassment legislation.
We will endeavour to bring equal opportunities for all women and girls of all ages, especially the youth and the unemployed. We will find ways to identify and support the vulnerable and those who have faltered, and we will invite men to partner with us as we continue to work towards gender equality.
As Minister for Social Development, Housing and Community Development, I am committed to advancing the cause of gender equality and women's empowerment here in Grenada, and by extension, the world.
I invite us all to commemorate International Women's Day this year, mindful of our local theme "Acknowledging and Celebrating the Success in Women". I ask all men and women, boys and girls, to recognise the successes made by the women and girls you know personally, and celebrate that success with them.
Dear women and girls, do not forget your own successes, and continue to share it with the world.
Have an enjoyable International Women's Day!