Today, March 8, 2018 is being recognized as International Women’s Day globally, under the theme “Press For Progress.” Through this forum I begin by paying tribute and to wish all women throughout the Turks and Caicos Islands a Happy International Women’s Day.
This year’s theme “Press For Progress” is broad in scope and significance. It is one that invite us to reflect on the achievements of women whose contributions and achievements cannot go unnoticed, while at the same time, it is one that challenge women of every race and creed to continue to build and empower themselves, and to advance gender equity and gender equality for the benefit all.
We are all aware of some of the social issues that affect women daily and if truth be told, women’s issues are also human rights issues. In addition to domestic abuse - both physical and emotional, there are a number of women around the world who are victims of other inhumane and criminal acts such rape, human trafficking, child marriages and servitude or slave labour. Recently, we have seen women across the globe, including the Turks and Caicos Islands, stepping into their boldness by exposing their abusers, standing up against injustice and claiming their right to lead a life free of exploitation.
In the words of Oprah Winfrey at the 2018 Golden Globe Awards, “For too long women have not been heard or believed if they dared to speak their truth….. A new day is on the horizon, when nobody have to say “Me too” again”.
Despite the challenges, so many strong and courageous women have “pressed for progress” in ways big and small, from nurturing generations of competent, independent and hardworking men and women, to providing stable and safe homes, and shattering glass ceilings in many spheres of public and private life, even when it seemed difficult or impossible to do. Today, we celebrate you and your accomplishments, we celebrate your zeal to not accept the status quo and we celebrate those who are building upon your efforts so that they too can empower likeminded women and girls in our communities. Women in the Turks and Caicos Islands must continue to stand proud in all their endeavors and keep alive a great legacy of women being the instruments of progress and positive change.
Among the many women we salute in the Turks and Caicos Islands on this year’s International Women’s Day, we pay special recognition to our country’s first female Premier, Hon. Sharlene Cartwright-Robinson. Through her historical election in December last year, there is now very strong evidence that women are capable of competing, and succeeding, in male dominated fields. There are many independent and first world that have yet to embrace the opportunity to place women at the highest levels of decision making in their countries and so we as a nation should take great pride in demonstrating that we place no barriers on women pressing for progress in our society.
As Minister with responsibility for Gender Affairs, I am committed to ensuring that gender issues are not ignored, that women in need and the opportunities yearned by so many women and girls are supported, and that women’s issues remain on the platform of our national discourse and response.
Women of the Turks and Caicos Islands, Press for Progress!
Happy International Women’s Day!