Cayman stepping up for gender equality

Malala Yousafzai meets with President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama and their daughter Malia in the Oval Office in 2013. A documentary about Malala, an advocate for girls’ education and empowerment, will be shown at various locations around the island this month. - Photo: Official White House photo by Pete Souza via The Washington Post

International Women’s Day is Tuesday, but in the Cayman Islands, women will be celebrated with special events all month.

March is Honoring Women Month in Cayman, and the Family Resource Centre has organized several events around the theme of “Step it up for gender equality.”

The theme is tied to a commitment made by world leaders at the United Nations in 2015 to end discrimination against women by 2030 with “concrete and measurable” actions to kick-start rapid change in their countries.

“It starts with self-evaluating what is happening within our organizations, our community, and seeing whether there are ways that men and women aren’t being treated fairly or equally,” Family Resource Centre program facilitator Charmaine Miller said. “Women’s equality isn’t just a woman’s issue, it’s a human rights issue.”

Cayman will kick things off with a worship service Saturday at the King’s Seventh-day Adventist church from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

On International Women’s Day, the Family Resource Centre is hosting a free screening of the documentary film “He Named Me Malala” about Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai – her life, her fight for children’s education, and how she and her father defied traditional norms and violent extremists to make a difference.

“We thought the film was very fitting for the theme of the day,” Ms. Miller said. “It speaks of the importance of girls’ education and advocates against gender inequality.”

In 2009, at age 11, Ms. Yousafzai began writing a blog for the BBC about the dangers of going to school in the Taliban-held Swat Valley in Pakistan. The blog thrust her into the international spotlight, and she began appearing on television to advocate for women’s education.

Her activism provoked the ire of Taliban leaders, who voted to kill her, and in 2012, a masked gunman came onto her school bus and shot Ms. Yousafzai in the head.

A year later, she and her father established the Malala Fund to bring awareness to the social and economic impact of girls’ education and to empower girls around the world.

In 2014, she became the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate, at age 17. She was the co-recipient of that year’s Nobel Peace Prize, with Kailash Satyarthi, a children’s rights and education activist.

The documentary will also be shown at the Harquail Theatre Tuesday evening. General admission is free; VIP tickets, which include a small plate buffet, are $15. Doors open at 6 p.m. and local organizations that support Malala’s cause will be present to discuss their work. Individuals who have helped with the advancement of girls in sports in the Cayman Islands will be honored at 6:30 p.m. and the film will begin at 7 p.m. There will be a discussion on the issues highlighted in the film following the screening.

The Family Resource Centre will also show the film earlier in the day at the high schools.

“I think even though it’s a global film, it’s definitely applicable to people here,” Ms. Miller said. “It’s about standing up for children’s rights and empowering the youth in the community to close the gender gap.”

Ms. Miller said the film also “highlights the importance of involving both men and women in working together to promote equal opportunities for all.

“I really want to stress that … we like to think of gender inequality as a woman’s issue, but it’s really not, and we still struggle with that here in Cayman, where at times we box ourselves in,” Ms. Miller said. “But we’re promoting the involvement of both women and men so that we can work together and create more equal opportunities.”

Other events this month include the “Colour Me Purple” 5K Walk/Run on March 12 at Kaibo and on March 13 at Smith Cove. The race is sure to be colorful, as participants will be doused with purple powder. Registration is $20 and all proceeds benefit the Family Resource Centre.

For a full schedule of Honouring Women Month, visit

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