Minister Frankie Campbell poses with honourees and guests for International Women’s Day.
By FELICITY DARVILLE
The empowerment of women plays an important role in the advancement of men, according to Minister of Social Services and Urban Development Frankie Campbell, who encouraged men not to look at International Women’s Day as an event that excludes them.
“This is not a competition between women and men,” Mr Campbell declared at the 2019 International Women’s Day (IWD) awards ceremony on March 8.
“It is about empowering women and girls for stronger partnerships. Who are they partnering with? It’s our boys and men. If it’s one-sided, we have already lost the battle; there must be balance.”
Around the world, 190 countries participated in the event, which was held under the theme “Balance for Better”.
“We must save Adam,” said Mr Campbell said, referring to men.
“If I fail to prepare young men in this country (to be good citizens), what kind of husbands will my girls have? We cannot lose sight of the fact that gender equality is about bringing balance – economic balance, social balance, and more. If we lose sight of that, then much of our work will be in vain,” he said.
“I have made the commitment that I want no less for anyone else’s girls than I want for my own three girls. We want to have good, strong, educated, productive, tenacious women, and we have got to start from the time they are girls. We cannot wait until they are in junior high, or until they end up at Willie Mae Pratt Centre for Girls or at PACE. We must talk to them when they are young. Talk to them about good touch, bad touch. Talk to them about thinking about their goals and dreams. It is not too early for them to understand that when you are walking with a boy he should hold the door for you to go in first. That’s the way I was raised.”
The Department of Gender and Family Affairs and the Urban Renewal Commission teamed up to host the IWD awards ceremony and luncheon, held at the National Training Agency, Gladstone Road, last Friday. There, nearly 30 women representing inner-city communities were honoured. Campbell said that the women chosen have done so much to help others in their lives that “they could just sit back and relax, and let their grandchildren plait their hair, yet; they continue to serve”.
The women represent the Bain & Grants Town, Centreville, Englerston, Fort Charlotte, Fox Hill, Free Town, Nassau Village, Pinewood Gardens, St Barnabas and Southern Shore communities. All of the women honoured were chosen by Urban Renewal Centres in their area. Southern Shores does not have a centre yet, but Minister Campbell announced that the building has already been commissioned and the newest Urban Renewal Centre, representing Southern Shores, would soon be open at its Flamingo Gardens Park location.
Director of Gender and Family Affairs Dr Jacinta Higgs noted that the women who were honoured are ones who work on the ground with students, troubled youth and others, going into areas in the inner-cities where many do not want to go and be of service.
She informed those gathered that since the recent trip by the Bahamas delegation to CEDAW (Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women), the United Nations informed them that the Bahamas must improve its women in politics statistics. Experts pointed out that too little women sit alongside men in government.
Minister Campbell added: “You must come together and ensure that some legislation or statute says there must be a certain number of women (serving in government). Whenever a fund is put in place, you must ensure that a certain percentage is put aside for women. I challenge you to not put me or any other minister in the position to tell the international community that 54 percent of the electorate allowed a Bill designed to support women to fail because women did not support it.”
Special guest speaker Reverend Roslyn Astwood asked women not to forget their upbringing and the homemakers who made it possible for them to excel in their various fields.
“We cannot neglect the women who stayed home so we could go to school,” said Rev Astwood.
“Don’t forget the grandmothers praying for us on the Family Islands, and the homemakers who made it possible for us to become educated, who sacrificed for us.”