(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana) Ms. Marion Bethel, the eleventh recipient of the CARICOM Triennial Award for Women, in her acceptance speech, struck a resounding note in her call to governments and civil society “to commit wholeheartedly to zero tolerance for violence against women and girls” and to the “pursuit of a fifty percent representation of women in Parliament”.
The distinguished attorney, Bahamian scholar, poet, film-maker, essayist, short-story writer, nationally, regionally and internationally acclaimed gender equality and human rights advocate declared “…that for all the violence, cruelty, inequity and injustice that women face regionally and globally, this is not our destiny”. Continuing, she soberly reminded that “women’s creativity, imagination and perseverance as anchored in our social agency, political actions and work do matter”.
Delivered with grace, style and depth, Ms. Marion Bethel, essentially built her response on the platform of The Bahamas’ Women Suffrage Movement, with the situations and struggles of and by women and girls, the central theme.
Ms. Bethel added to her call, among other issues, self-determination for the disabled and the lesbian, gay, bisexual transgender communities, noting that this issue required serious attention and redress. She called for social justice for the statelessness of undocumented persons in the Caribbean and for the “Caribbean Community to reconsider its stance on the death penalty and to abolish same.
The distinguished awardee acknowledged that the award spoke to “CARICOM’s” highest aspirations for women in the Caribbean and the world” and that she accepted it with gratitude and thankfulness.
Ms. Bethel joins a distinguished group of women: Ms. Nesta Patrick of Trinidad and Tobago (1984); the late Dame Nita Barrow of Barbados (1987); Dr. Peggy Antrobus of Grenada and citizen of St. Vincent and the Grenadines (1990); Ms. Magda Pollard of Guyana (1993); Dr. Lucille Mair of Jamaica (1996); Professor Joycelin Massiah of Guyana and citizen of Barbados (1999); Professor Rhoda Reddock of Trinidad and Tobago (2002); Justice Desiree Bernard of Guyana(2005); Prof. Barbara Bailey of Jamaica (2008); and Prof. Violet Eudine Barriteau, Ph.D of Barbados (2011)
The CARICOM Secretariat in 1984, introduced the CARICOM Triennial Award for Women to acknowledge the landmark contributions of inspiring and distinguished Caribbean women.