by Eulana Weekes
St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): The Ministry of Health and Gender Affairs Nevis in commemoration of International Women’s Day, hosted an Awards ceremony to honour ten outstanding women and two organisations on the island of Nevis.
The International Women’s Day Awards Ceremony was held at the Nevis Performing Arts Centre (NEPAC) on Tuesday night (March 8) under the International Women’s Day theme, “Gender Equality Today for a Sustainable Tomorrow”.
According to Gender Affairs Officer, Ms. Verna Grante, the purpose of the Awards Ceremony was to recognize the contribution of women and girls who are leading the charge in climate change adaptation, mitigation and response to build a more sustainable future for all.
The awardees were Mrs. Wendy Elliott-Williams, Mrs. Merla Isles Barzey, Ms. Nykiesha Henry, Mrs. Raveena Tamara Persaud, Ms. Hydeia Tyson, Ms. Devene Smithen, Ms. Kwesian Davis, Ms. Aleyah Powell, Ms. Joy Napier, Ms. Rhosyll Jeffers, Nevis Historical and Conservation Society (NHCS) and Windward in Action.”
The Guest Speaker of the event was Attorney-at-Law Ms. Althea Campbell who during her presentation examined three issues; where we are today in relation to gender inequality, what a sustainable tomorrow would look like and how we will get there.
“So where are we today?” questioned Campbell as she shared some of the realities that women currently face.
“As glamorous as we make it look, the reality for most women today can be summed up in three words: overworked and underpaid. We are overworked because most of us carry the double burden of trying to juggle a career, while also handling the other responsibilities associated with womanhood. These other responsibilities are now referred to by Social Scientists as unpaid carework. They refer to child care, elder care, cleaning the home and even growing backyard gardens. Most of us have been socialised to believe that these are just feminine jobs and as a result, young girls are taught at a very early age how to cook and how to clean, while boys get to enjoy their childhood.”
Campbell purported that this type of socialisation is a definitive characteristic of inequality.
She further explained that unpaid care work results in the lower productivity of women as many women give up the opportunity of self-advancement to perform care work on a full-time basis at home. Campbell shared a second result which is, “less participation by women in politics.” She shared the view that women do not have the time to engage in politics considering the unpaid care work to be done and also the perceived notion that politics is a man’s field.
How do we get to a sustainable tomorrow?
“For starters, women and men alike need to reconsider our thoughts on gender roles. As much as I quite enjoy blaming men for everything, the reality is that we women are also responsible for the way we socialise our boys to adhere to gender roles.”
Campbell added that creative means must be added to relieve the burdens of women from unpaid work and also for women to feel empowered to be in political leadership; so that women’s causes can be championed and effective women centred solutions can be reached.
The International Women’s Day Awards Ceremony was attended by the Premier of Nevis, the Hon Mark Brantley, Junior Minister in the Ministry of Health and Gender Affairs, the Hon Hazel Brandy Williams and other members of the local parliament.
The hosts of the event were Mr. Mario Phillip and Mrs. Pamela Martin. The awards ceremony was followed by entertainment and cocktails in the NEPAC Courtyard.