Day 3 of The Grand Bahamas Experience :
Revd Marie Roach-Hepburn opened the sessions with the topic “Women Breaking the Glass Ceiling in Religion ” she emphasized obedience to God as the first requirement to success.
In 1992 the Anglican Church in the Bahamas allowed the ordination of women and in 1999, a woman, Angela Palacious, was ordained a priest.
Marie grew up at a time when girls did not serve in the alter but ended up becoming ordained as a priest in the Anglican communion.
Her meeting with Michael Graine changed it all when she was assigned to chauffeur two people unknown to her to be world renowned evangelists.
Her being assigned the menial task of a chauffeur changed everything and opened the door to Oxford University for her.
Again she was assigned to be in charge of evangelism in the public, preaching to drunk and mentally challenged people.
When you know who has called you and you believe in the call for you, it doesnt matter what everyone else thinks or says, be diligent on that path.
There have been several occasions when people have refused to take communion from her; when people have stood up and walked out as she prepared to preach in church and occasions when she was not acknowledged by her peers and colleagues who would always only say “fellow clergymen”.
Marie is the first to preach in a Roman Catholic church in the Bahamas and first in many other fields. She concluded her remarks by saying “Ignore the nay sayers”.
Other sessions are “The Role of Women and Girls After the 50 Year War conflicts Ends in Colombia”- Carolina Rios Villota (Colombian FIDA Member).
The struggle started as a protest by people in the hinterlands who were dissatisfied with the inequality in the society and transformed into an armed conflict. Women were used as armed fighters and sex slaves to the rebels.
The peace process started in 1992 but women were not allowed to participate, despite the fact that women and children were the larger percentage of those affected by the conflict. The struggle was basically to have women at the peace round and eventually 16% women participation was allowed.
“The Political Empowerment of Women – Krishan Shantakumart (India)
The real decision making power comes from political empowerment. Women are seen to have equal rights in the absence of men. This is the comfortable position of many societies.
Women should take up positions in the parliament and law making process.
At work interviews women are asked questions like “are you married?”, “who is your husband?”, “how many children do you have?” etc. These questions are not usually asked of their male counterparts. Women are hardly judged by their intelligence. Men often ask what women know about politics forgetting that nobody was born with knowledge of politics but everyone gets experience on whatever they find doing including politics. History of women elected in parliament in India has shown that few women who make it to parliament are relations of male politicians. Nigeria does not have a different history on this issue.
Reservation of certain percentage is important for women to meet up with the ground already covered by men over the years. Women are no longer the weaker sex. They have the ability to multitask. Men should learn to share the burden of keeping the home and bringing up children.
St Glenys Hanna Martin (Bahamas)
The struggle of women is one of a refusal to accept the status quo. Women must not just make up the number but must change those things that have been against the development of women. They must take cognisance of participants in the political arena as the one-half of the world population. Under representation is a stubborn phenomenon in the world.
Kay Forbes- Smith (Bahamas)
Do not compare. Comparison is the thief of all joy. It will make you jealous and unhappy. Be your own challenger and women must stop talking about the barrier and get on with the movement.
Keep supporting women and when you are at the table keep the door open so that someone else may walk in.
The afternoon session also emphasized the role of women in the fight against corruption. Ezinwa Okoroafor (Nigeria), moderator of session and speakers all concluded that the issue of corruption is a global concern which should attract the attention of women and FIda in particular
The afternoon was spiced up with An Intl Leadership Awardee’s Luncheon where Janet Bostwick, the first Female Parliamentarian was honored.
FIDA Nigeria also joined other FIda nationals to pursue her primary objectives of caring for the less privilege in the society by visiting The Grand Bahamas Children Home where Delegates at this year’s Convention pledged their support to the development and advancement of children. A token was presented to the children.
The 3rd Day ended glamorously with a Cultural Night and Bahamian Expo. All FIda nations made presentations. FIDA Ekiti , FIDA Ondo, FIDA Oyo, and FIDA Plateau represented FIDA Nigeria at the event.
FIDA Nigeria! Too much Sauce!
Other Countries also had beautiful display