Women’s movement focused on increasing number of women elected to Parliament

Women’s movement focused on increasing number of women elected to Parliament
(Seated from L-R): Dame Janet Bostwick DBE; Social Services Minister Frankie Campbell; Governor General Cornelius A. Smith; and Marissa Smith. (Standing from L-R): Dr. Jacinta Higgs; Kelley Bostwick-Toote; Brenda Harris Pinde; Prodesta Moore; Sharmie Farrington Austin; Santina McKinney; Erin Brown; Laurell Burrows; and LeShan Ferguson.

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – A women’s movement has committed itself increasing the political representation of women in the House of Assembly.

Women United (WU) was founded in October 2018 by Prodesta Moore, who was later joined by a group of Bahamian women activists in early 2019.

WU is managed by a Steering Committee of 15 professional women who believe the time is now for women to take up the mantle from the Suffragettes and stand together for the achievement of women’s social, intellectual, political and economical empowerment.

“WU seeks to bring women together to collectively contribute to the upliftment of women, the growth of the nation and betterment for The Bahamas wholly,” a release stated.

“Women United’s mission is to “to involve women of all walks of life in positive, progressive and uplifting programmes, initiatives and efforts that will continuously advance the people of The Bahamas and move the nation forward.”

It continued: “Women United intends to continue its efforts to make positive impact in The Bahamas. The group also has a mandate to ensure that more women are elected into political office and hold seats in the House of Assembly, sharing the goal with the United Nations to have at least 50 percent representation by 2030.”

Women coloured the Government House ballroom on November 26 during the “Women in Leadership Ceremony”.

The ceremony was staged by the Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development in observance of National Women’s Suffrage—commemorating 57 years since the movement commenced in The Bahamas.

The evening paid homage to the women that set the pace many decades ago and recited excerpts from their charge made to women back in 1957.

The Suffragists in The Bahamas “had dreams that went far beyond the enfranchisement of women. They wanted human rights and social services for every Bahamian, and advocated the purposeful, informed, community-engagement of every citizen”, read a press release.

In 1960, members of the Women Suffrage Movement “called on the Governor General and presented him with a petition to be forwarded to the Colonial Office in London”.

The petition was delivered by eight members of that movement: Mrs. Doris Johnson, Mrs. Mary Ingraham, Miss G. K. Symonette, Mrs. Eugenie Lockhart, Mrs. Mildred Donaldson, Miss Shirley Sands, Madam Willa Mae Saunders, and Mrs. Marion Stuart.

This petition proved successful when in the House of Assembly later ruled in favour of the right to vote for women in The Bahamas.

The press statement continued: “Picking up the powerful baton of this historic group of ladies is a group of women whom have taken on the task of continued advocacy, community service and political involvement.

“These women hail from a cross section of the Bahamian society and together formed Women United.

“WU believes that women should share in the landscape of the building and upliftment of The Bahamas, having much to offer and contribute alongside male counterparts. WU invites women from every walk of life to join in the efforts for continued growth and development.”

The Steering Committee of WU consists of: Prodesta Moore, Brenda Harris Pinder, Caron Shepherd, Dr. Novia Carter, Sharmie Farrington Austin, Kelley Bostwick-Toote, S. Ali McIntosh, Laurell Burrows, Simmone Bowe, Dr. Madeline Sawyer, Santina McKinney, Rowena Sutherland-Poitier, LeShan Ferguson, Erin Brown and Dr. Monique Thompson.