MINISTER LOOKS AT WOMEN IN ANGUILLA AHEAD OF CELEBRATION
“The times do not define us, we define the times,” the Minister of Home Affairs and Gender Affairs, Mrs. Cora Richardson-Hodge, declared in a radio broadcast several days ago. She was speaking ahead of the celebration of Women’s Week in Anguilla, commencing on March 5.
The full text of her address is printed below.
“Many of you would have heard the Press Release emanating from my Ministry, the Ministry of Home Affairs and Gender Affairs with respect to the upcoming Women’s week entitled “Celebrating 50! Reflecting! Evolving!” which will be observed from 5th – 11th March, 2017. While a more fulsome presentation will be forthcoming at the beginning of Women’s Week, I think this is an opportune time to indeed reflect on how we have evolved from where we were to where we are today.
“Many of you may know that where we as women stand today, and the rights and privileges that we enjoy, were in fact unavailable to our ancestors and indeed to women in the past around the globe.
“In Medieval Europe, women were inferior to men in legal status and were regarded as property. In fact under our old Anguilla laws, not only could women not own property, but they could not inherit property. In France until 1965 and in Spain until 1975, married women could not work without the consent of their husbands. It was not until the late 19th Century/Early 20th Century were women in various countries granted the right to vote.
“With those things in mind, let us talk about on the home-front. In the Caribbean, upon emancipation, Caribbean men attained freedom and all that it entails,but for the most part Caribbean women remained second class citizens. In Anguilla however, women have always been the cornerstone of our society. It is the mother or grandmother who takes responsibility for making the family decisions. It is the women who have been the nurturers, the caretakers, the breadwinners in their own right and yes, our women have been revolutionaries. As the editor of the Anguillian stated in his editorial dated March 21, 2014, “In our society, women have stood beside men as equal partners, behind them as supporters and in front of them as protectors.”
“In the book Appendix A of Anguilla’s Battle for Freedom 1967 – 1969 written by Mr. Colville Petty and Mr. Nat Hodge, the following was said about women’s roles in the revolution:
“The success of the Revolution was due in significant measure to the part played by Anguillian women. As regards the psychological aspect of the struggle, it was the women who kept the revolutionary spirit alive… their children were at home alone and unattended.
“The women were also very active and vocal in the many protests that followed the British invasion of the island on 19th March 1969. They considered it an unjustified occupation and were therefore in the forefront of resistance against it. It was the women who, in defiance of orders from the British forces, sat and slept in front of the Administration Building and denied them access. Similarly, it was the women who, after pushing the soldiers aside, stormed the Court House and prevented Anguilla’s leaders from meeting with British officials. One of the women, Idalia Gumbs, opined:
“When the history of Anguilla is truly written it would have to be said that whatever Anguilla achieved, was achieved because of the women. When the island was invaded the men did not face the guns. The women did.”
“Fellow Anguillians, women of and in Anguilla, I wanted to give this historical overview of how we have evolved from women being seen as property to women being at the forefront of one of the most significant endeavours in Anguilla’s history, the Anguilla Revolution.
“Women, with their tenacity, fortitude and strength of character, have been able to overcome each and every obstacle that was placed in their way over the years. From pushing down the barriers in education, voting, owning property, participation in certain types of sports to joining the military and fighting on the front lines with men, becoming leaders in the workplace, in the judiciary and in politics, women have indeed fought to be able to stand where they, where we, stand today.
“The times do not define us as women, we define the times. We cannot be dissuaded or defeated and we cannot be deterred or denied. To our young girls, our young women, have heart. Continue to reach for your goals and continue to push past any negative, unproductive words or actions that may come at you from any direction. We are all special, each one of us is unique in our own way. Let us all reflect on where we are, resolve to continue to improve ourselves and evolve!
“God Bless You and God Bless Anguilla.”
(Published without editing by The Anguillian newspaper.)