Concerned community activists of the Bureau of Women’s Affairs discuss solutions for adding weight to the social imbalance evident throughout the country. (BIS Photo / Gena Gibbs).
Nassau, The Bahamas – Equal rights for
Bahamian women to transfer dual citizenship rights to their children could be
the source for legitimising gender inequality in The Bahamas.
“There are some very important, fundamental things
we haven’t done, and as long as we continue to sit on it, we will continue to
remain where we are,” said Loretta Butler Turner, Minister of State of Social
“We allowed politics to stop us from allowing women
to be able to pass on citizenship to their children, if they are married to a
foreign spouse and the baby is had outside of the country. But our husbands
are allowed to do it. They could marry anyone in the world and that
Minister of State for Social Development, Loretta Butler-Turner. (BIS Photo / Gena Gibbs).
On February 17, the Bureau of Women’s Affairs
attracted 50 women to its monthly forum with non-governmental women’s
organisations and interested women to meet at the Rehabilitative & Welfare
Services Conference Room on Thompson Boulevard.
“There are some things that are very controversial
that nobody wants to talk about. There are controversial things that
divide us,” said Mrs. Turner.
“For example, what happened with the legislation
with regards to rape and marriage? Do you know how many women we have
talked to who don’t even agree with us on this, but yet they want to be a part
of the women’s empowerment? They just don’t get it.”
Senator Jacinta Higgs. (BIS Photo / Gena Gibbs).
Concerned community activists discussed solutions
for adding weight to the social imbalance evident throughout the country,
unconsciously created by cultural gender conditioning in early childhood
“We have got to make sure we have a more equitable
society, rather than get all caught up with who is going to do this election or
that election,” said Mrs. Turner.
“We have bigger pictures to look at. We have a
bigger fight on our hands.”
Erin Greene, Community Activist. (BIS Photo / Gena Gibbs). Sheila Culmer, Bahamas Disability Association. (BIS Photo / Gena Gibbs).
Extending freedom to women to make legal decisions
without a man’s consent, such as transferring citizenship, land and
inheritances, would indicate an evolution of national maturity as well as an
increase in emotional security among Bahamian men.
am not a feminist, but I do believe in equality. I am happily married. I
have a wonderful husband and two biological children and one adopted
child. I am very happy in my own skin and thank God I have a husband who
truly understands and appreciates me”, said Mrs. Turner.
is also a very grounded, very self-assured man, so he doesn’t mind.
Communication is key.”
Wendy Rejan, Political Officer U.S. Embassy. (BIS Photo / Gena Gibbs).
By creating laws that recognise women’s empowerment
needs, the move would elevate the individual worth of Bahamian women, whom
represent 51 percent of the population. It would also give disabled women
more rights and protection under the law.
“If we are 51 percent of the population, why are we
not making up 51 percent of the House of Parliament? We are the majority
and I’m not saying that everyone is going to be interested in politics but you
are going to have daughters, granddaughters, and you will have sons as well,
but let us encourage them,” said Mrs. Turner.
“One of the things we are very good at is
discouraging each other. We have to make sure our women are not just
promoted, but they are profitable. They could go into banks without
someone asking you,’ Oh where’s your husband?’ Why do we have to have
concurrence over our lives with another male?”
Gwen Knowles, Chairman of the Women’s Bureau. (BIS Photo / Gena Gibbs).
Minister Turner and the Bureau’s chairman encouraged
women to work together to resolve the issues that divide women and place them
at a disadvantage to men.
“Are we positioning ourselves to be leaders and not
followers? Are we truly getting to the point, ladies, where we are going
to support each other or are we going to continue to pull each other down
because of our differences,” said Mrs. Butler Turner.
Dr. Sandra Dean Patterson, Director of the Crisis Centre. (BIS Photo / Gena Gibbs).
“There’s so much more that binds us together then
what separates us. Why is it that we continue to allow the boys to say
‘it’s still a man’s world’? What are we doing to make the next generation
“We’ve been having these discussions about what we
can have to bring us together. All of the groups here are doing fantastic
things in the community, but we need one thing to bring us to work under one
umbrella, so we can break out and still have the same goal,” said Gwen Knowles,
Women’s Bureau chairman.