Janet Bostwick shaping out to be a real Stateswoman…
As a woman who has carved a niche in Bahamian history, the country’s first female Member of Parliament (MP), the Honourable Janet Bostwick, on Tuesday admitted her “distress” that women are still discriminated against in the constitution.
“We must fight. It diminishes the self-esteem of women, putting false superiority in a man. It saddens me. It distresses me,” said Ms. Bostwick passionately, while addressing students, staff and faculty of The Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute (BTVI).
Speaking on the topic, ‘Women in Bahamian History,’ Ms. Bostwick noted that women are still paid less than men for the same job and citizenship is still a major problem.
“Under the law, if a Bahamian woman marries a foreigner and has a child outside The Bahamas, that child is non-Bahamian, but if a Bahamian man marries a foreigner, wherever, that child is a Bahamian by birth,” said the former Attorney General during the Student Success Speakers’ Series.
Additionally, Ms. Bostwick disclosed the discrimination she experienced when she first ran for parliament. “Many people felt a woman’s place is in the home. I was supposed to be in the house – but the House of Assembly,” she said to thunderous applause.
Noting that she received “outstanding support” from a number of men while campaigning, Ms. Bostwick said women must set their standards high. “Don’t walk in front of a man, but don’t walk behind him,” she stressed.
While captivating her audience as she spoke of a woman in history known only as Poor Black Kate, to the role of midwives, Mary Ingraham and Mable Walker, Ms. Bostwick acknowledged that women played a pivotal role in the life of The Bahamas.
“These were women whose lives have had a great impact. They were quite tenacious and in 1962, that was our liberation. That was Emancipation Day. For the first time in Bahamian history, women could vote,” she emphasized.
Additionally, Ms. Bostwick made special note of Mary Moseley, former Editor and owner of The Nassau Guardian, who she considered a woman of renown. “This is huge because then, most women weren’t even educated. She was a great historian for The Bahamas and always reported what happened in parliament,” stated Ms. Bostwick.
“We may not have authority, but we have power – power and influence can affect great change,” she stressed.
Meanwhile, students were impressed with Ms. Bostwick’s presentation. Student, Kevin Ducatel, said he received a sound lesson in Bahamian history. “I actually want to go to the library and read more based on what she said. I realize how little I do know about Bahamian history. I’m honoured to have met her,” said the young man who requested that Ms. Bostwick autograph his skateboard.
Another student, Christopher Barrett considers Ms. Bostwick to be a role model. He stated, “She embodies what it is to be a strong, black, Bahamian woman. She opened my eyes.”