“The race rises as its women rise.
They are the true standard of its elevation."
Robert Love, Jamaica Advocate, 1895
Improvement in the status of women has been the focus of national
and regional development initiatives in the Caribbean for several decades.
The overriding goal is to redress inequities in the economic sphere,
gender disparities in political power and decision-making and to accord
women higher levels of social influence.
Some success has been recorded
in securing the empowerment and equal participation of women in various
spheres of society. Social, economic and legislative reform, aided
by the strategic inclusion of the gender dimension at varying levels
of developmental planning and policy making in the Region enables women
to have greater control of their destiny and a more involved role in
the process of development.
The course of the journey towards a better existence for women
and their full and equal incorporation into the mainstream of society
has been mapped through the landmark contributions of inspirational
and distinguished Caribbean women. These women have made remarkable
and lasting contributions in the arena of women’s development in diverse
ways. The CARICOM Triennial Award for Women was introduced to recognize
and honour such women of distinction in the Caribbean.
In 1983, CARICOM celebrated its 10th anniversary and during a meeting
of Ministers of Women's Affairs to commemorate this event, it was recognized
that the 1973 Treaty of Chaguaramas addressed the need to examine the
position of women in the Region. Evolving out of the deliberations
at the meeting of Ministers was the recommendation to confer an Award
to an outstanding CARICOM woman whose work had made a significant contribution
to the socio-economic development of the Caribbean. In response, the
CARICOM Secretariat introduced the CARICOM Triennial Award for Women
The scheme provides for:
(i) The submission of nominations of women by both Governments and
Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO’s) to the Secretary-General of
the Caribbean Community.
(ii) The setting up of a Regional Selection Committee comprising representatives
of selected Member States in rotation
(iii) The determination of a winner, utilizing appropriate guidelines
(iv) The announcement of the Award to the Caribbean public by the
Secretary-General on International Women’s Day and
(v) The presentation of the Award at the Meeting of Ministers with
responsibility for the Integration of Women in Development.
Initially, the selection of awardees was determined by the expertise
of the candidate which was of direct regional significance. Much weighting
was accorded to the regional contribution of the nominees vis-à-vis
their national or international contributions.
The basis for selecting
recipients on account of regional contributions became a matter for
consideration at a Meeting of CARICOM Ministers attending a Policy
Roundtable on Gender and Development in October 2001. The Meeting reviewed
the conferment of the Award and the selection criteria employed and
recommended that alongside regional contributions, selection should
allow for consideration of “regional impact of national level service.”
work of women at the national level which impact positively on other
countries is now considered along with their direct regional contributions.
Less significance is accorded to academic qualifications in determining
the women to be honoured.
CARICOM has agreed that the content to the
Award be improved to include the CARICOM passport (for past and future
recipients) to facilitate travel in the Region.
Since the introduction of the Triennial Award in 1983 the following
seven (7) highly esteemed and outstanding women of the Caribbean have
been bestowed the honour of the Award for their dedication and determination
in broadening the parameters of existence for women and improving their
economic, social, political, cultural and legal status.
In 1984, Ms. Nesta Patrick, national of Trinidad and Tobago; 1987, The late, Her
Excellency, Dame Nita Barrow, national of Barbados; 1990, Dr. Peggy Antrobus, national of Grenada and Citizen of St. Vincent and the Grenadines;
1993, Ms. Magda Pollard, national of Guyana; 1996, Dr. Lucille Mair,
national of Jamaica; 1999, Professor Joycelin Massiah, national of
Guyana and Citizen of Barbados: 2002, Professor Rhoda Reddock, national
of Trinidad and Tobago, and in 2005 Justice Desiree Bernard, national