|Prime Minister Christie tells Bahamians not to forget the women’s suffrage movement|
|Monday, 09 July 2012 10:33|
NASSAU, Bahamas -- Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Perry Gladstone Christie said Bahamians should never forget that the women’s suffrage movement, with its emphasis on equality and social justice for all, played a major role in the Great Awakening that took place in The Bahamas in the late 1950s to mid-1960s.
Speaking at the 39th Independence National Pride Day celebrating the Opening of the Women’s Suffrage Exhibition held on Rawson Square, Friday, July 6, the Prime Minister said, “I have had the occasion before to refer to this period as the golden age of Bahamian politics.
“Certainly it deserves to be recognised as the most defining period in the development of authentic democracy in The Bahamas and the attainment of true freedom for the masses, both male and female.”
The Independence Committee and the Women’s Suffrage Movement Committee arranged the exhibition to pay special homage to the brave women who spearheaded the fight for social justice and gender equality in the local suffragette movement. Also women who have contributed to the growth and prosperity of the country are being recognised.
Honouree and Suffragette Effie Walkes cut the ribbon and unveiled the exhibition. Prime Minister Christie explained that Mary Ingraham, Mabel Walker, Georgianna Symonette, Eugenia Lockhart and, most famously of all, Dame Dr. Doris Johnson, deserve lasting recognition as freedom fighters and national heroines of the first order.
“During this, the golden jubilee anniversary of the great and glorious triumph they won in 1962, we should be especially mindful of just how much we owe to them and to the scores, nay, hundreds of other fearless women who joined with them in bringing the struggles of the suffragettes to fruition.”
He added, “Just as our country overcame the transatlantic slave trade and won our emancipation; stared down institutionalised injustice in our triumphant march to majority rule and defied our most ardent critics in gaining independence, the suffragettes also deserved their place in history for overcoming great odds and delivering a great victory not only for women, but for all Bahamians.”
The Prime Minister said that in the 50 years that have ensued since women won the right to vote, The Bahamas has seen women break through one glass ceiling after another in all areas of national life. “They have served as Governors General, Deputy Leaders of political organisations; Parliamentarians, Cabinet Ministers, Chief Justice, President of the Court of Appeal, Secretary to the Cabinet, Permanent Secretaries, Governor of the Central Bank, and this record of leadership has been matched in virtually all sectors of the private sector as well.”
However, he also noted that while the old shackles of gender equality have largely been eliminated, challenges still remain, especially in the private sector where, in many cases, women are still not rewarded on the same scale as their male counterparts and this must end. “But today is not a day for agitation,” he said, “but rather a day for celebration, and so I want to conclude by proclaiming once again our collective gratitude, as a nation and as a people, to the suffragette movement that delivered us such a wonderful addition to our democratic structures 50 years ago.
“We are the beneficiaries of this legacy and so today we take time out to remember those magnificent ladies who made it all possible. The Prime Minister said, “As leader of the government, I reiterate my commitment to serve selflessly and to use the instruments of the state to facilitate the full protection and empowerment of the Bahamian people regardless of gender.”
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