Minnis urges Parliament to follow ‘lead’ of Suffrage Movement


Minnis commits to lead with ushering gender equality for all women in the Bahamas

By Matt Maura, BIS

Free National Movement Leader, Dr. Hubert Minnis (left) and Tall Pines Member of Parliament, Leslie Miller, chat while on their way to the House of Assembly November 26 for the Joint Sitting of Parliament. Dr. Minnis called on Parliamentarians to follow the example set by the Women's Suffrage Movement and put aside all political differences to ensure that equal rights are attained for all in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas. Police Sergeant, Deno Josey, Sergeant-at-Arms of the House of Assembly is at right. (BIS Photo/Patrick Hanna)

NASSAU, The Bahamas — Free National Movement Leader, Dr. Hubert A. Minnis, Monday called on Parliamentarians to follow the example set by the members of the Women’s Suffrage Movement and join forces to ensure that “there is true equality of rights for women” in The Bahamas.

“The Women’s Suffrage Movement was able to cross all political divides based upon its fundamental belief in equal rights for all,” Dr. Minnis said. “They were the pioneers who decided – with the greatest conviction – that they would not settle for the mediocrity of the times. It was their desire to change the world in which they lived; to make a difference and create a Bahamas their daughters would be proud to live in, a Bahamas where their daughters would receive equal pay for equitable work.

“They fought for a Bahamas where women were able to vote, to determine their government – to positively enact change in the land they loved. Bahamian women have (since) taken up the torch the mothers of the suffrage movement so greatly bore for so many years and they, along with those present here, will be the force that takes the fight for true equality of rights for women forward,” Dr. Minnis added.

Addressing Parliament during the Joint Sitting of the Senate and the House of Assembly Monday in observance of the 50th Anniversary of the Enfranchisement of Women in The Bahamas, Dr. Minnis said the leaders of the Movement were able to accomplish their goal of oneness as a result of the fact that the Movement “though political in nature, became bipartisan in deed.”

“It was fifty years ago that the Bahamian legends were forged – for the united voices and determination of Mary Ingraham, Mable Walker, Georgiana Symonette, Eugenia Lockhart, Althea Mortimer, Albertha Isaacs, Dr. Doris Johnson, Grace Wilson, Mildred Moxey, Ethel Kemp, Gladys Bailey, Una Prosper Heastie, Veronica Lotmore, Nora Hannah and Madge Brown emerged as the leaders of the suffrage movement.

“Today we stand in solidarity in this great House of Assembly to celebrate an auspicious anniversary of the Mothers of our great nation. Today there is no political pondering as the suffrage movement crosses all political divides based on its fundamental beliefs of human rights and women rights,” Dr. Minnis added.

Member of Parliament for Central Grand Bahama, the Hon. Neko Grant (left), and Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Perry G. Christie share in the moment of oneness during Monday's Joint Sitting of Parliament to observe the 50th Anniversary of the Enfranchisement of Women in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas. (BIS Photo/Patrick Hanna)

The Leader of the Opposition said The Bahamas has experienced an unprecedented volume of women in the workplace as a result of the Women’s Suffrage Movement, but that there is more to be done.

“More than ever, there are working mothers who in essence toil in two full time jobs, one in her place of employment and the other in her home,” Dr. Minnis said. “The Free National Movement supports the rights of women so much so that in 2002, we saw the flaws in the Constitution of The Bahamas which we tried to correct in a referendum that unfortunately was voted against by the people at that time.  Even though this occurred, we did not abandon our belief in fighting for the equality of women and their children, and I pledge our continuation in this fight until there is true equality for men and women in The Bahamas.”

Dr. Minnis said: “In more recent times, similarly to the shift that has occurred in many developed and developing countries of the world, the Free National Movement government ensured that women were promoted and placed in positions of leadership in government and non-governmental sectors in The Bahamas.  Our job was not completed; many workplaces are not as flexible towards women workers because many women are still discriminated against for promotions, advancement and equitable pay.

“So today, as we celebrate along with the prodigious women of the suffrage movement, let us emulate their actions for upon their backs many today stand. It was their sacrifice and commitment that brought about the revolution for equality and basic rights not only for women, but for all that suffer civil discrimination. It is this kind of unselfishness that creates a great nation,” Dr. Minnis added.