The government placed a special focus on the progress women have made in the arenas of climate change and disaster risk management while celebrating International Women’s Day on March 8.
During a celebration themed “Gender Equality Today for a Sustainable Tomorrow,” speakers explained that the United Nations has recognised how climate change disproportionately affects women around the world.
“They are forced to seek help and financial resources to facilitate the continuous operations of their homes and the survival of their children, sometimes at the detriment of facing increased instances of violence, including sexual assault, mental and verbal abuse, as well as physical abuse,” said Tasha Bertie, the acting permanent secretary in the Ministry of Health and Social Development. “This is all in an effort to survive. These factors give credit to support why women and girls should be involved and assist to make changes and decisions on climate change.”
Ms. Bertie commended honourees at the ceremony for their work to increase awareness for such issues in a dynamic field.
Ms. Bertie said the awardees were selected based on their outstanding performances in a competition organised by the Governor’s Office last October.
“They demonstrated a sincere interest and great passion for tackling climate change in the Virgin Islands,” she said. “You have all made it clear that we each have a role to play to ensure that the BVI is safe for those who live here and call it home.”
She said their efforts would “make a lasting effort for generations to come.”
The Office of Gender Affairs recognised 11 women and four girls for their contributions.
Officer Mickesha Delpleshe presented yellow roses and engraved plaque to Abby Christopher, Tessa Smith-Claxton, Angela Burnett-Penn, Pearline George, Atoya George, Argel Horton, Rozina Norris-Gumbs, Stacy-Ann Austin, Irene Smith, Melanie Daway, and Sheniah Armstrong-Jones.
Four students were recognised for their video submissions on the importance of tackling climate change: Alexa Hodge and Hanan Bazaz from Elmore Stoutt High School; Ashleigh Hearne from Cedar International School; and Sarah Ramdatt from St. George’s Secondary School.
HSD Minister Carvin Malone added his commendation for the women who have built the community as businesspeople and leaders.
Women in leadership
House of Assembly members shared their thoughts on the observance via social media.
Junior Minister for Trade and Economic Development Shereen Flax-Charles wrote on March 8, “I salute my sisters of the ‘fairer sex’ and pray that you find continued tenacity to stay the course in our lifelong fight for equality and justice!”
Sixth District Representative Alvera Maduro-Caines shared, “The celebration and increasingly the protection of women should be the daily duty of everyone, for without women there would be no life, and without life we cannot enjoy liberties and the ability to rule our destiny.”
She prompted people to recognise the important roles women fulfil not just on International Women’s Day.
House Speaker Julian Willock saluted the four female members of the House and clerk Phyllis Evans for their efforts to progress the work of government.
“I can say without a doubt that the fourth HOA is a better place for having the five of you here at this time in history,” he wrote “Long live all the previous women members who have been trailblazers in the HOA, as the journey and work continues.”