TONNI Ann Brodber with Denise Antonio, UNDP at the Office of the Prime Minister, Bahamas during the signing of the MSDCF.
By FELICITY DARVILLE
Bahamian women are leading the way amongst women in the region who are making major strides for gender equality, according to Tonni Ann Brodber, representative of the UN Women Multi-Country Office - Caribbean.
They are not only representing the Bahamas, they are representing women globally as they advance the cause of gender equality throughout the world. They are pushing for women and girls to be given fair opportunities for advancement – not leaving men behind – but rallying with men to ensure there is a level playing field for all.
Most recently, Sumayyah Cargill, Unit Head of Strategic Development and Initiatives for the Bahamas Development Bank (BDB) made a presentation at the 2XCollaborative Gender and Climate Finance Taskforce, which has a $15 billion commitment to mobilise capital towards women’s empowerment.
UN Women facilitated the BDB relationship with 2XCollaborative, which ensures that the BDB will use a gender lens when making decisions for investing going forward. The Bahamas became the first in the Caribbean country to participate in this financing approach.
“Sumayyah is an innovator and leader in financing for gender equality, and she represented the Bahamas at the 2XCollaborative with grace and aplomb,” Brodber said.
“We have effective women in finance and in many other fields in this region and Bahamian women are leading the way.”
“We want to ensure that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) owned by men, women, and youth are provided with access to funding, and that their financing and functions are met in gender-responsive ways.”
Brodber also pointed to the presentation by attorney, activist and author Marion Bethel-Sears, who was among 11 experts elected to serve on the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).
“It was a powerful moment,” she said of Sears’ election, pointing to the importance of Caribbean women playing central roles in the “agenda making space” within the UN system.
She highlighted the work of Gaynel Curry, a human rights, gender and women’s rights advocate who has a seasoned career working with the United Nations and also served as Director for the Department of Gender and Family Affairs in the Bahamas.
Brodber’s work in this field began in 2009 when she became a UN specialist, focused on bringing an end to discrimination and violence against women and girls. Way back then, she was impressed with the work of Sandra Dean- Patterson and the Crisis Centre, and used it as a model for other countries.
She served as the gender specialist for the United Nations Development Programme in South Africa, as well as briefly with the UN Women South Africa Multi- Country Office and established what is now the UN Women Country Office in Haiti.
Prior to her August 2020 appointment as representative of the UN Women Multi-Country Office for the Caribbean, she spent five years as its deputy representative. Prior to this work, Brodber was the team leader for the Advancing Gender Justice in the Pacific programme with the UN Women Fiji Multi-Country Office.
During these years, she has had many opportunities to visit the Bahamas to partner and provide technical support on causes for the advancement of Bahamian women. Most recently, she was a part of the UN Bahamas mission this past February, which led to the historic signing of the Multi-country Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework (MSDCF). She participated in courtesy calls and talks with various government ministries as the MSDCF will help to pave the way forward for the Bahamas in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) outlined in the UN Agenda 2030.
“Over the years, I have had the opportunity to work with Gaynel Curry, Dr Jacinta Higgs, and now Calae Philippe (in their capacities as directors of Gender and Family Affairs) and it was always a pleasure to work with the Bahamas,” she said.
“We are standing ready to support the Bahamas in its development - and we do not work alone - we work in collaboration with our partners across the UN system. They are all important in the work we do across the Bahamas.”