International Women’s Day - We Salute our Women
International Women’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women globally while calling for greater equality. The Women of Industry, Solidarity and Empowerment (WISE), celebrate this occasion under the theme “Make it Happen”. Every 8th day of March we celebrate International Women’s Day. This tribute will take a twopronged recognition of women: Political and socioeconomic.
History records that: 1) The first female member of the United States of Representatives was Jeannette Rankin of Montana in 1917. 2) Miriam A. Ferguson and Nellie Taylor Ross became the first Governors of the United States. 3) Frances Perkins, when chosen as the first female Cabinet Minister, ushered in a new era for women in politics. Since then, many women have made their mark in American politics with Hillary Clinton, Condoleezza Rice and Sarah Palin being the most recent and notable.
In the world of politics, women went on to hold high offices:1) Sirimavo Bandaranaike became the prime minister of Sri Lanka in 1990 and successfully completed her five-year term. 2) Indira Gandhi became the Prime Minister of India and held the office from 1966 to 1977 and again from 1980 to 1984, when she was assassinated. 3) Golda Meir was the Prime Minister of Israel from 1969 to 1974. She gained popularity as “Iron Lady” of Israel. 4) Isabel Marnez de Peron became President of Argentina and was in office for two years. 5) Margaret Thatcher became prime minister of Britain from 1979 and remained in office for three consecutive terms. 6) The western world was still more tolerant to women than the east, but it did not stop Khaleda Zia and Benazir Bhutto heading conservative Muslim nations Bangladesh and Pakistan respectively.
Women of Africa, a continent where male supremacy continues to be prevalent, have been successful in taking up the mantle of leadership. We salute: 1) President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. 2) President Joyce Banda of Malawi. 3) Foreign Minister Armina Mohamed of Kenya. 4) Foreign Minister of Gambia, Her Excellency Susan Waffia Ogoo. 5) Head of State of the Central African Republic, Her Excellency Catherine Sambu Panzana 6) The five Cabinet Ministers in Algeria.
We also honor the trail blazing efforts of some other outstanding women in contemporary political history: 1) Corazon Aquino, first Female President of the Philippines and first Female President in Asia. 2) Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Second Female President of the Philippines. 3) Kim Campbell of Canada.
Despite the obstacles to gender equality in the Caribbean, women did rise to leadership, notably: 1) Janet Jagan, President of Guyana from December 1997 through to August 1999. 2) President Pamela Gordon, Bermuda First Female Premier. 3) Dame Jennifer M. Smith, Bermuda Second Female Premier. 4) Paula Cox, Bermuda Third Female Premier and Leader of the Progressive Labour Party. 5) Portia Simpson-Miller, Jamaica First Female and current Prime Minister and President of the Peoples National Party. 6) Kamla Persad-Bissessar, Trinidad and Tobago First Female and current Prime Minister, Leader of the United National Congress. 7) Dame Louise Lake-Tack, Antigua and Barbuda First Female Governor. 8) Dr. Jacqui Quinn-Leandro, Antigua and Barbuda President of the Inter-American Commission of Women (CIM), 2006-2008. 9) Mia Mottley, QC Barbados Former Leader of the Barbados Labour Party, the First Female Leader of the Opposition and now a Member of Parliament 10) Dame Eugenia Charles was elected to serve three terms from1980-1995 as first female Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Dominica. 11) Ertha Pascal-Trouillot, President of Haiti from March 1990 to February 1991.
From our very own home land, Saint Lucia, we salute: 1) Hon. Heraldine Rock, first female minister to be elected in the Parliament of Saint Lucia. 2) Her Excellency Mennisa Rambally, currently serving as Permanent Representative of Saint Lucia to the United Nations, and the youngest woman to enter politics in Saint Lucia at age 21. 3) Ms. Sarah Flood-Beaubrun who became the Minister of Health in the St Lucia Labour Party Government in 1997. 4) Her Excellency Dame Pearlette Louisy, Saint Lucia’s first female Governor General. 5) Hon. Alvina Reynolds, Minister of Health 6) Hon. Emma Hippolyte, Director of Audit; Director of National Insurance Corporation and now Minister of Trade, Industry and Commerce 7) Hon Dr. GaleRigobert, Parliamentary Representative for Micoud North and Leader of the Opposition. 8) Deceased Justice Judge Suzie d’Auvergne was a Legal Luminary and a legend in her time.
Saint Lucia has come a long way! The Women of Industry, Solidarity and Empowerment (WISE) salute our Women of Saint Lucia, the Caribbean and the world. We have demonstrated that we are on the right road to making it happen!
This article would not be complete if we did not mention all the mothers, grandmothers, daughters, sisters, aunts and teachers; to them we offer profound gratitude.