While Caymanian women are fortunate that they are better off than their sisters in many other parts of the world, the events taking place during March, Honouring Women Month, underscore the continued challenges that remain.
The celebration kicked off on Friday, 7 March when women from all walks of life came together at the Marriott Beach Resort for a ceremony commemorating International Women’s Day, celebrated around the world on 8 March.
Started in the early 1900s, IWD is rooted in the centuries-old struggle of women to participate in society on equal footing with men. It reflects the UN’s central organizing principles that no enduring solution to society’s most threatening social, economic and political problems can be achieved without the full participation and empowerment of the world’s women.
‘While women in Cayman are not subject to the inequality, discrimination and abuses that they face in other countries, we still have our own problems,’ said keynote speaker, House Speaker Edna Moyle.
‘Fortunately, the problem of domestic violence is no longer being swept under the carpet.’
Mrs. Moyle commented that while the issue of domestic abuse is now being tackled through avenues such as the Women’s Resource Centre, other challenges remain.
‘Our women have made great strides in the numbers of senior staff in the civil service and in education, yet they continue to earn only 70 per cent of what men do,’ she said.
Mrs. Moyle urged a renewed focus on empowerment, saying women should turn their attention to becoming political leaders, as well as securing a financial education to permit them the means to control their own destinies.
The ceremony also featured remarks from Minister for Health and Human Services Anthony Eden, who applauded the important contributions women have made to Cayman society, and acknowledged progress remains to be made in some areas.
‘My Ministry is acutely aware that there are people here – and more women than men – living in poor circumstances. There are people too – and again we believe more women than men – who suffer in silence, who walk among us suffering from invisible wounds,’ he said.
‘So there remains an urgent need for our Government, our society, to address women’s issues and invest strategically in our women and girls. There are many young women in desperate need of guidance, attention, support, and sometimes protection.’
A welcome announcement from the Minister was the formation of a new position, Officer of Gender Affairs. The officer’s role will be to review the National Policy on Gender Equity and Equality, and advise on the proposed implementation plan.
Additional presenters included Annie Multon, President of the Business and Professional Women’s club who gave an inspirational reading of Marianne Williamson’s entreaty to give up one’s fear of shining too brightly.
‘As we let our own light shine, we subconsciously give other people permission to do the same,’ she said.
The ceremony was topped off with an amusing performance piece by John Gray High School’s Priscilla Pouchie. Adapting the persona of a world-wise elderly Caymanian whose prescriptions for society’s ills involve large doses of herb tea and castor oil, Ms Pouchie had the audience in stitches.
WRC Director Tammy Ebanks Bishop wrapped up the proceedings, acknowledging Master of Ceremonies Joannah Bodden Small of the Young BPW, Jamesette Anglin who gave a stirring performance of the national anthem and national song, and Rev. May Graham of St. George’s Anglican Church who led the opening prayer.
After lunch, the WRC held an empowerment seminar comprised of two panel discussions, one focusing on education and the other on investing in girls and women.
Other events in Cayman’s Honouring Women Month celebration included a 5k walk/run, a church service, a poetry and photo contest, book displays, an Inspiring Women Entrepreneurs conference, educational sessions in Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac, sporting activities and discounts for women at various local businesses.
Parents, both fathers and mothers, are also being encouraged to participate in Take our Daughters and Sons to Work Day being held on 28 March.
Madge Tobin, Cayman’s first air traffic controller, national hero Miss Sybil McLaughlin and Speaker of the House Edna Moyle. Photo: Basia Pioro