By Mark Kinder
In 1962, women gained the right to vote in the Bahamas. This came about after the Burma Road Riots of 1942, the General Strike of 1958, the Labour Movement of the 1950s, and civil rights movements. Since then, Janet Bostwick became the first woman elected to the House of Assembly. Bostwick leads symposiums, like last year’s, with presentations by relatives of the women who led the movement and pushed for equal rights. Today, her argument is that women’s rights are not being advanced. “We have become complacent, materialistic and quiet. We have never been more educated, nor have we ever enjoyed greater levels of influence, yet this is hardly reflected in our involvement in seeking social justice and true equality. It is shameful,” Bostwick says.
Advocates continue to encourage women to educate themselves on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. This convention, ratified in 1993, “pragmatically evaluates the efforts of member countries, to assist and encourage them to best meet their obligations. As a body, CEDAW works to hold governments accountable, and to advocate on behalf of women across the world,” according to Ministry of National Security, Missouri Sherman-Peter.
Included was an issue that is still prevalent all over the world: the marginalization of women. It was specifically highlighted with single mothers, disabled, and immigrant women. “A lot of times they don’t get the support that they need. And we are not just talking about financial support. Sometimes there is a need for housing that does not exist or a person who is in real distress. A lot of times these women are with children. These are some of the issues that we need to be concerned about and that is what I talked about,” said Donna Nicolls, activist and volunteer counsellor at the Crisis Centre.