Minister of State for Social Development, the Hon. Loretta Butler-Turner makes addresses women attending an International Women’s Day Workshop at the British Colonial Hilton Resort. The empowerment workshop was organized by the Bureau of Women’s Affairs, headed by First Assistant Secretary Mrs. Phedra Rahming. (Photo/Patrick Hanna)
By: Matt Maura
NASSAU, The Bahamas – Females must continue to empower themselves by taking their personal development seriously while capitalizing on every opportunity to broaden their knowledge, Minister of State for Social Development, the Hon. Loretta Butler-Turner said recently.
Mrs. Butler-Turner cited recent statistics which show that while more females are enrolled in the secondary and tertiary level-institutions than males, and that girls are not only outnumbering but outperforming boys at the secondary school level in many instances, females still have less access to opportunities than males.
She said a recent United Nations Report on education in the Caribbean confirmed this fact. Mrs. Butler-Turner said the Report also stated that in many instances, women have to work “twice as hard to achieve equal status.”
Addressing an International Women’s Day Workshop, Minister Butler-Turner told her female audience that Governments and various institutions can fulfill their mandates by providing the required programmes, but that women must take their personal development seriously and use every opportunity to broaden their knowledge.
“Ladies, you can no longer sit idly by and allow your lives to unfold without interjecting some element of planning,” Mrs. Butler-Turner said. “Gone are the days when you casually lament that you will never be affected by certain situations. The reality is that couples divorce, spouses die, jobs are lost and children want to go to college – these are but a few of the stark realities of life.
“In many instances,” Mrs. Butler-Turner continued, “the financial status of women is greatly affected by such events. You must therefore arm yourselves with the knowledge and tools you need to respond to life’s challenges.”
Mrs. Butler-Turner said The Bahamas “has done a tremendous amount of work” in promoting the empowerment of its citizenry, and that women have been “at the fore to access these programmes.”
She said agencies such as the Bahamas Agricultural Industrial Corporation (BAIC), the Bahamas Development Bank, the Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute (BTVI) and others have contributed to the empowerment of the country’s citizens and its women.
“Investing in women and girls has a positive impact on the economic and national development of our country,” Mrs. Butler-Turner said.
Mrs. Butler-Turner said empowerment provides women with an opportunity to participate fully in the processes that affect their lives and also enables them to stay on the cutting edge.
She said that she is “very proud” of the many advancements women have made in The Bahamas, particularly the achievements of women such as Dame Doris Johnson who was appointed the first female Senator, and later elected as the first female President of the Senate. Dame Doris was also the country’s first female Cabinet Minister.
Mrs. Butler-Turner said Bahamian women can also be proud of the accomplishments of the Hon. Janet Bostwick, the first woman elected to the House of Assembly in 1987; Former Speaker of the House of Assembly, Ms. Italia Johnson who was elected Speaker of the House in 1997 and Dame Ivy Dumont, who became the first female Governor-General of The Bahamas in 2002.
“In the same year, the first female Deputy Prime Minister (the Hon. Cynthia Pratt) was appointed and later had the occasion to serve as Acting Prime Minister. I am sure (we) can agree that we have come a long way,” Mrs. Butler-Turner added.