Caribbean Women Congratulate Baroness Scotland, Newly Elected Commonwealth Secretary General


As you may have heard, Patricia Janet Scotland, Baroness Scotland of Asthal, PC, QC (to give her full title) was elected on November 27 in Malta as the first woman Commonwealth Secretary General. Born on the island of Dominica (the tenth of twelve children), with a father from Antigua & Barbuda, Baroness Scotland is the second Caribbean national to hold the position; the first was Sir Shridath Ramphal in 1975, who served for two terms. The first black woman to serve as a UK Government Minister in 1999, she served as the first black Attorney General in the UK from 2007 – 10 (and the only woman to have held that post). So, she has several distinguished “firsts” to her name.

Baroness Scotland. (Photo: Heathcliff O'Malley/UK Telegraph)
Baroness Scotland. (Photo: Heathcliff O’Malley/UK Telegraph)

Describing herself as “a child of the Commonwealth,” Baroness Scotland observes: “There is much to do and I hope all 53 of us will look together at the vision, we will look to what we have to do on climate change, on education, on science and technology and we will make this a better world for our children.” She has also promised to raise the issue of LGBT rights (40 of the 53 Commonwealth countries have laws that severely limit or completely deny these rights) and I hope this will be on the agenda for the next Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

I am sharing below a letter of congratulations from a vibrant virtual network of Caribbean feminist and women’s rights advocates from across the region. 

December 1, 2015

Dear Baroness Scotland,

We are a network of Caribbean feminist and women’s rights activists, policy-makers and scholars, and we are delighted with your recent election as Commonwealth Secretary-General and offer our warm congratulations to you.

We feel a deep sense of pride in your achievement as the first woman, and representing the Caribbean region, to have been elected to this pivotal leadership position in the Commonwealth family of nations, an institution with great potential for contributing to global development and peace.

As a virtual network of over 100 members based across the Caribbean region and diaspora, our members include organizations and individuals working actively on women’s empowerment and gender equality in a broad range of fields including: accountability and good governance, agriculture and rural development, arts and culture, economic development and poverty eradication, education and training, enterprise and trade, environment and climate change, health and well-being, human rights and the law, leadership and decision-making, LGBTQI rights, religion and spirituality, sexual and reproductive rights, violence and citizen security, among others.

As you are aware, in the Caribbean, our small island developing states are increasingly vulnerable as we face the global economic downturn, high levels of national debt, the loss of preferential trade agreements for primary exports such as bananas, and hurricanes and other disasters exacerbated by climate change and global warming. These are playing themselves out in increasing poverty particularly among women heads of households, and gender-based and other forms of violence and insecurity. Despite Caribbean women’s much vaunted educational achievements, the region is marked by women’s under-representation in the labour market, in the entrepreneurial class, and in leadership and decision-making, which serve to undermine its economic, social and political development.

We sincerely hope that the Commonwealth Secretariat will continue to prioritize support for Caribbean small island developing states, and increase resources for promoting women’s empowerment and gender equality across the Commonwealth.

We offer you our very best wishes as you prepare to assume the post of Commonwealth Secretary-General, and look forward to welcoming you to the Caribbean and dialoguing with you to advance our shared interests in the coming period.

Kind regards,

Joan Grant Cummings,
Caribbean Regional Network of Organizations and Individuals
Working on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality

 

ORGANIZATIONS
Ø Association of Women’s Organization of Jamaica (AWOJA) – Hermione McKenzie

Ø Bahamas Crisis Centre – Sandra Patterson

Ø Barbados YWCA – Paige Bryan

Ø Business and Professional Women’s Club of Barbados – Marriane Burnham

Ø CAISO – Colin Robinson

Ø Caribbean Association for Feminist Research and Action (St. Lucia) – Flavia Cherry

Ø Caribbean Association for Feminist Research and Action (CAFRA T&T) – Tara Ramoutar

Ø Caribbean Development Activists Network of Women [Caribbean DAWN] – Shakira Maxwell

Ø Caribbean Institute for Women in Leadership (CIWIL)

Ø Caribbean Network of Rural Women – Mildred Crawford

Ø Caribbean Policy Development Centre (CPDC) – Shantal Munro-Knight

Ø Caribbean Women’s Association, (CARIWA) Barbados – Marilyn Rice-Bowen

Ø Caribbean Youth Environment Network – Shashian Thomas

Ø Christian Aid – Haiti

Ø Directorate of Gender Affairs Crisis Centre, Antigua and Barbuda

Ø Dominica National Council of Women – Vanya David

Ø Equality Bahamas

Ø Eve for Life : Emma “Petchary” Lewis – Joy Crawford

Ø Firecircle – Nicole S. Hendrickson

Ø Fifty-One Percent Coalition – Jamaica

Ø Foundation Ultimate Purpose [UP] – Suriname

Ø Guyana Association of Women Lawyers

Ø Help & Shelter, Guyana – Josephine Whitehead; Danuta Radzik

Ø Hollaback! Bahamas

Ø Jamaica Community of Positive Women – Olive Edwards

Ø Jamaica Civil Society (Coalition) Forum

Ø J-FLAG – Karen Lloyd

Ø JFLAG – Women’s Empowerment for Change (A JFLAG Subsidiary) – Latoya Nugent

Ø Jamaica Household Workers’ Union – Shirley Pryce

Ø Jamaica Network of Rural Women Producers (JNRWP) – Mildred Crawford

Ø Jamaica Youth Advocacy Network – Monique Long

Ø Grenada National Organization of Women (GNOW)

Ø GROOTS – Jamaica – Lana Finikin

Ø GROOTS – Trinidad & Tobago [formerly of T& T ASPIRE] – Delores Robinson; Nicole Hendrickson

Ø National Council of Dominican Women – Vanya David

Ø Network of NGOs Trinidad & Tobago – Terry Ince

Ø PANOS Caribbean – Indi McLymont Lafayette

Ø Projekta Suriname – Sharda Ganga

Ø Quality of Citizenship Jamaica – Angeline Jackson; Jalna Broderick JAMAICA

Ø Institute of Gender and Development Studies – IGDS, UWI- Mona – Dr Leith Dunn; Nadeen Spence JAMAICA

Ø Red Thread, Guyana – Vanda Radzik, Indigenous & Rural Women Advocate

Ø Saint Lucia Crisis Centre – Antonia Jean

Ø Save Foundation – Liesel Daisley, BARBADOS

Ø SISTREN Theatre Collective (Jamaica)

Ø United and Strong, St. Lucia – Kenita Placide

Ø Women’s Committee of the G2K (Jamaica Labour Party Youth Arm)

Ø WMW {Formerly Women’s Media Watch} (Jamaica) – Hilary Nicholson

Ø Woman Inc. (Jamaica) – Joyce Hewett

Ø Womantra – Stephanie Leitch

Ø Women’s Resource and Outreach Centre (WROC- Jamaica) – Dorothy Whyte; Lorna Lee; Linnette Vassell

Ø Women’s Issues Network of Belize (WINBELIZE) – J. Carolyn Reynolds

Ø Women Against Rape Inc. – Antigua & Barbuda

Ø World Merit Bahamas

Ø Young Women’s Leadership Initiative – Jamaica, Ayesha Constable

INDIVIDUALS
Ø Andaiye – Human Rights and Gender Equality Activist, GUYANA

Ø Beverley Anderson-Duncan – Gender Advisor, People’s National Party Executive Committee, JAMAICA

Ø Dr. Peggy Antrobus – Author, Researcher, Gender Equality and Human Rights Activist, BARBADOS

Ø Dr. Rawwida Baksh – Activist, Researcher, Writer, Policy Adviser on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality, TRINIDAD & TOBAGO

Ø Sue Ann Barratt – Graduate Student, Volunteer, BARBADOS

Ø Prof. Eudine Barriteau – Principal, University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, BARBADOS

Ø Marion Bethel – Gender Specialist, BAHAMAS

Ø Grace Boschman – HAITI

Ø Nicole Brown – Environment and Development Practitioner, JAMAICA

Ø Crystal Brizan – Gender Equality Practitioner and Activist, Lawyer, TRINIDAD & TOBAGO

Ø Roberta Clarke – Regional Director, Asia/Pacific, UN Women, TRINIDAD & TOBAGO and BARBADOS

Ø Joy Dillon

Ø Imani Duncan-Price – Senator, Gender Activist, JAMAICA

Ø Joan French – Women’s and Human Rights Activist, JAMAICA

Ø Dr. Marcia Forbes – Media & Communications Specialist, University Lecturer, JAMAICA

Ø Honor Ford-Smith – Artiste, Gender & Human Rights Activist, Educator, JAMAICA & CANADA

Ø Sue Goffe – Journalist, Media & Communications Expert, Blogger, Human Rights Activist & Defender JAMAICA

Ø Florence Goldson – Gender and Development Specialist, Human Rights Activist, BELIZE

Ø Joan Grant Cummings – Gender and Development Specialist, Caribbean DAWN, WROC, JAMAICA

Ø Eunadie Johnson – Women’s Equality, Health and Community Development Activist, JAMAICA & DOMINICA

Ø Emma Lewis – Independent Blogger, JAMAICA

Ø Georgia Love – Gender Equality Activist, CatchAFyah Network, Entrepreneur, JAMAICA

Ø Jean Lowrie-Chin – Communications Expert, JAMAICA

Ø Shakira Maxwell, Gender and Development Specialist, JAMAICA

Ø Sharene McKenzie – Expert in Project Management, Community Development, Policing and Mobilization Strategies, Children & Youth Rights, Gender Equality; Governance, JAMAICA

Ø Carol Narcisse – Educator, Communications, Gender Equality Practitioner and Human Rights Activists, JAMAICA

Ø Adwoa Onuora – Researcher/Educator; Gender and Human Rights Activist, JAMAICA

Ø Tamika Peart – Women’s Committee G2K, JAMAICA

Ø Kimalee Phillips – Co-Director Groundation Grenada, Educator, Researcher, Consultant, Writer, Unionist, GRENADA & CANADA

Ø Prof. Rhoda Reddock – Deputy Principal, University of the West Indies, St. Augustine Campus, TRINIDAD & TOBAGO

Ø Audrey Roberts – Researcher, Human Rights, Gender and Development Activist, BAHAMAS

Ø Dawn Marie Roper – Researcher, Entrepreneur, Gender Equality Activist

Ø Maggie Schmeitz – Gender and Youth Development Specialist, SURINAME

Ø Kai Small – (Ph. D. student) Researcher/Activist in Gender, Sexuality, Blackness and State & Colonial Violence, JAMAICA & USA.

Ø Danielle Toppin – Gender and Development Specialist, BARBADOS

Ø Prof. Alissa Trotz – Author, Gender Equality and Human Rights Activist, Educator, GUYANA & CANADA

Ø Linnette Vassell – Gender & Community Development Specialist, JAMAICA

Ø Judy Wedderburn – Gender Equality Practitioner, JAMAICA

Ø Latoya West-Blackwood – CEO, iPublish Consultancy, Chair, Book Industry Association of JAMAICA

Ø Dr. Mariama Williams – Feminist Economist, Researcher, Gender Equality Activist, JAMAICA; and Senior Research Fellow, South Centre, SWITZERLAND

Ø Elaine Wint – Communications and Gender Specialist, JAMAICA

Ø Dr. Rosina Wiltshire – Caribbean Institute for Women in Leadership (CIWiL), BARBADOS

Ø Alexandria Wong – RN, Gender Equality Activist, ANTIGUA


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