Gender and Family Affairs increases staffing

By Matt Maura

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Officials at the Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development have tripled the staff complement at the Department of Gender and Family Affairs within the past year, from three to 10 staff members in order to meet the department’s expanding role.

The new additions include: retired Superintendent of the Royal Bahamas Police Force, Mrs. Elaine Sands, a gender-based violence expert; Ms. Vechenda Roberts, public education officer; Ms. Alicia Rolle, gender programme officer, whose concentration is in international conventions; retired corrections officer, Mr. Henry Johnson, a gender-based violence expert, who serves as male programme coordinator; Ms. Torree Musgrove, research analyst; and Ms. Markayla Major.

They were preceded by Dr. Jacinta Higgs, who was appointed the Director of the Department of Gender and Family Affairs in July 2018. The latter hires all came following the appointment of the Hon. Frankie A. Campbell as Minister of Social Services and Urban Development in July 2018. The staff complement also includes Ms. Melvelyn Symonette (first assistant secretary), Ms. Simone Bridgewater (gender-based violence coordinator), and Ms. Elaine Hinsey.

Campbell said the staff expansion allows the department to build capacity in anticipation of its expanding role.

“We were a skeletal unit with just a few persons, but we now have experts in persons such as Elaine Sands who brought with her a wealth of experience, knowledge and passion for what she does from her years of exemplary service with the Royal Bahamas Police Force,” the minister said.

“We also have the experience of Mr. Henry Johnson and Ms. Vechenda Roberts. Mr. Johnson brought his experiences from having assisted males, who would have had their various challenges in life and ended up at the Bahamas Department of Corrections, to have their Damascus road experience, while Ms. Roberts is an educator.”

Campbell said the ministry was able to strike a “proper balance” with the appointments of the younger members of staff. These include Ms. Alicia Rolle, gender programme officer with focus on international conventions, Ms. Torree Musgrove (research analyst) and Ms. Markayla Major.

“The young persons that we brought on, bring the energy; they bring that familiarity with the modern technology and the cyber-world and so we have that beautiful balance of the experienced leader in our Director (Dr. Higgs); the experience of the Elaine Sands’ and Henry Johnsons, the expertise of Miss Simone Bridgewater and Miss Melvelyn Symonette, and Ms. Elaine Hinsey, who have been around for quite some time and who possess much of the institutional knowledge.

“The additions have allowed us to build capacity in anticipation of the expanding role of the department, and with that we continue to seek out additional partners and so I am very proud of where we are,” Campbell said.

“And we are still not resting on their laurels. We will continue the training; we will continue the exposure because we realize that the more our people are trained, the more they are able to identify different situations and scenarios and help to resolve those issues.”