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News : New Providence Last Updated: Feb 13, 2017 - 1:45:37 AM

National Women's Week Opens in Nassau
By Felicity Ingraham
Nov 14, 2016 - 10:44:07 PM

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Nassau, Bahamas - The Ministry of Social Services and Community Development announced National Women's Week and officially introduced its newest Director to the public during a press conference on Monday. Minister Melanie Griffin proudly shared plans for this year's National Women's Week with a room full of stakeholders in women's affairs and members of the press.

This national week of celebrations is held annually to mark the achievements of the Women's Suffrage Movement, the anniversary of the right of the Bahamian woman to participate in the electoral process, and to honor the "quiet revolution" that ultimately played a significant part in the struggle for Majority Rule and eventual independence.

Ms. Gaynel Curry was introduced to the stakeholders as the new Director of the newest department in the ministry - the Department of Gender and Family Affairs, formerly the Bureau of Women's Affairs. This new, expanded division will not only focus on women, but will consider every man, woman and child, taking a holistic look at the family and improving family life in The Bahamas. Curry held an interactive meeting with stakeholders after the press conference and pledges to work closely with these organizations throughout the country to help improve the lives of Bahamians.

Minister Griffin called on the public to participate, not only in commemoration of the Women's Suffrage Movement, but in honor of this year's theme: "Promoting Women as Equal Partners with Men in National Development".

"The importance of the active engagement of every woman, man, boy and girl, cannot be underestimated as we collectively heal and grow this nation," she said at the Press Conference.
Photos by Felicity Ingraham

This approach is consistent with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals which emphasize the critical role of inclusion and partnerships in the development process. A sense of shared responsibility, she said, is crucial to integrated socioeconomic development in The Bahamas.

"Strong families are built on sustained support systems; vibrant and healthy relationships; respectful community engagement and outreach; and solid spiritual grounding," said Minister Griffin.

"When our families are strong, our communities are strong. When our communities are strong, the foundation of our nation is strong. The new Department will be working to diligently promote these values."

During the conversation with partners, representatives from government and private organizations shared their views on the way forward with the newly-formed division. Suggestions included doing more to involve young people, consideration for women of all classes and abilities, and focusing on the needs of breastfeeding mothers.

This Friday, November 18, Minister Griffin will bring the opening remarks at the launch of a course for Leadership for Women in Decision-Making at the Bishop Michael Eldon Complex, University of The Bahamas, at 5:30pm.

On Sunday, November 20, the start of National Women's Week will be commemorated at a special church service at Mt. Tabor Church, Pinewood Gardens at 10am.
Minister addressing press conference (l-r) Undersecretary Phedra Rahming, Permanent Secretary Alan Strachan, Minister Melanie Griffin, Director Gaynel Curry

The public is encouraged to attend an Interactive Dialogue on Monday, November 21 at the Performing Arts Centre, University of The Bahamas from 6 - 8pm which will address this year's theme. The Ministry will then join in with the Zonta Club for its forum on Thursday, November 24, which will launch 16 days of activism. The club will host its forum at the School of Nursing Auditorium, Grosvenor's Close at 10am under the theme: "Zonta Says No To Violence against Women Forum". This will be followed by an orange ribbon-tying initiative on Bay Street, beginning at the Hilton Hotel.

Ministry officials will head off to Abaco and Exuma during National Women's Week, and will return to the capital for a festive cultural evening on Friday, November 25. The event will take place at the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas, West Hill Street from 6-8pm under the theme: "Women in the Arts... An Evening of Cultural Performances". During this event, the winners of the "Orange Your Office" campaign in recognition of the International Day to End Violence Against Women" will be announced. Organizations wishing to participate in the competition are encouraged to contact the Ministry as soon as possible.

National Women's Week ends with a National Women's Day March/ Fun Walk and Celebration on Sunday, November 26. The march begins at 8am at the University of The Bahamas (field near the Portia Smith building). Participants will take to Nassau Street, onto Meeting Street, then Blue Hill Road onto Poinciana Drive in order to return to the university for the festivities which will be held from 9-12pm.

Curry is hoping to see as many Bahamians as possible from all walks of life come out and participate in the events for National Women's Week. An Exhibition will be displayed at Parliament Square during the week's activities.
(l-r) Bahamas Consul General to Washington DC Paulette Zonicle, Permanent Secretary Alan Strachan, Minister of Social Services & Community Affairs Melanie Griffin, and Director of Gender and Family Affairs, Gaynel Curry

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