Heroes monument under wraps

It may just look like six concrete steps behind wooden hoardings at the corner of Heroes Square in central George Town, but by the last week of this month it will have grown into a monument honouring the women of the Cayman Islands.

heroes steps

The humble beginnings of a new monument to the women of Cayman which will be erected on National Heroes Day on 26 January. Photo: Norma Connolly

A monument to commemorate women who strived to bring suffrage rights to the female population of Cayman arrived on island last week but is being kept under wraps before its big unveiling on 26 January on National Heroes Day.

The monument was shipped to Cayman on Thursday last week from Florida.

The Ministry of Sports and Culture which is spearheading the National Heroes Day events is remaining tight-lipped about what it looks like or where it is being housed until the unveiling.

Minister Alden McLaughlin however gave a few hints, including that it was life-sized, and that caymanite would be a feature in the monument, as would a few grains of sand from Seven Mile Beach.

The monument is being erected 50 years after the removal of a law that prevented women from voting or standing for election, but Mr. McLaughlin said it would not look like any one particular woman who has played a role in shaping Cayman’s history.

‘We did not want something that only stood as a reminder or a mark of the fact that women had won the right to vote. It needed to be something which, while representing the achievements, struggles and strengths of women of that era, would also inspire other generations of women,’ he said.

Gina Matthews, the ministry’s director of corporate communications, has played a major role in bringing the monument to Cayman and has been involved since from the conception of the plan.

‘We wanted a design that allowed women to be able to identify and see themselves in part of this monument. To the older women who signed the petition which changed the law in the first place and the younger ones coming up and future generations of women. I want them to look at this monument and see themselves in it and be inspired,’ she said.

The ministry, which is hosting National Heroes Day, has invited 1,500 to the formal event which is officially called ‘In Praise of Our Women’.

The event, budgeted to cost $400,000, will also see four people receive their certificates and badges of honour. There will also be 12 recipients of the Spirit of Excellence Award and the National Sports Person of the Year Award will also be named at the ceremony.

Last year’s National Heroes Day commemorated Cayman’s maritime past.

Afterwards the pomp and ceremony of the official ceremonies, and the laying of wreathes by officials and the public, a family street party featuring four local bands will be held.