OFFICIAL ADDRESS IN RECOGNITION OF INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY 2019 BY HON. WENDY C. PHIPPS, MINISTER OF STATE WITH RESPONSIBILITY FOR GENDER AFFAIRS

Fellow Citizens and Residents of St. Kitts & Nevis:
International Women’s Day will be celebrated in St. Kitts and Nevis on Friday, March 8, 2019. On that auspicious occasion our Nation will join all other member states of the international community to pause and assess, recognise and applaud the vast contribution that women have made – and continue to make – in the development of our planet. Our Team Unity Government takes immense pleasure in congratulating every single woman for their invaluable, consistent and indispensable role in advancing the growth and development of our Nation.

This year, UN Women has chosen the following as the official theme for International Women’s Day 2019: “Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change.” I repeat: “Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change.” Along with this theme are the slogans: “Better the balance, better the World” &
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#BalanceforBetter. As has been the practice over the past several years, the UN’s choice of this theme is deliberate linked to the broader mandate of “Planet 50-50 by 2030”- an ambitious agenda that strives to attain genuine equality between men and women in all spheres of local, regional and national development by the same deadline date for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Among other matters, such gender parity should be evident in terms of Equal Pay for Equal Work; corporate leadership opportunities, political and socio-economic participation and entrepreneurship. However, the 2019 International Women’s Day theme goes a step further. This time, it is forcing us all to take a long, hard, and realistic look at the level of participation by women in areas such as Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), as well as the Design sector.
Throughout the centuries, the STEM and Design sectors have traditionally been dominated by men who pushed the envelope far enough to make their own marks in these STEM fields. Among these are:
• French microbiologist and chemist Louis Pasteur who invented the pasteurization process to improve food safety and save lives;
• Innovative American architect and interior designer, Frank Lloyd Wright who is world renown for iconic creations such as the Guggenheim Museum in New York, and Fallingwater, a
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home partially built over a waterfall in the Allegheny
Mountains of Pennsylvania;
• British doctor, Edward Jenner who invented the smallpox
vaccine and whose work formed the foundation of
immunization; and
• Philosopher and mathematician, René Descartes for whom the
Cartesian coordinate system has been named, and whose philosophical works remain standard text books in most university philosophy departments.
Yet, organisers of International Women’s Day events would do well to remember the many ground-breaking women who have shattered the glass ceiling in the STEM and Design sectors. Such feminine genius has been evident in women such as:
• The late Iraqi-British architect, Dame Zaha Hadid whose award-winning designs are modern architectural and engineering marvels that distinguish the business landscapes and skylines of major world cities;
• Repeat Nobel Prize-winning Polish physicist and chemist, Marie Curie, whose pioneering discovery of Radium (and Polonium) led to modern-day radiation that is used in much of today’s cancer therapies and medical diagnostic testing; and
• Black American theoretical physicist, Dr Shirley Jackson whose developments include the touch-tone telephone, caller ID, and fiber-optic cable.
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The histories, challenges and discoveries of such women should be told and re-told as an inspiration to current and future generations of young women. In this way they will understand that greatness is within their reach if they would only believe in themselves, persevere and trust God in all things.
As we celebrate International Women’s Day 2019 we call to mind some sobering statistics as it relates to women’s participation in the life of our Country. Here are a few:
1) More than 50% of our Nation’s households continue to be headed by single mothers;
2) More than 50% of our teachers are females;
3) About 3 out of every 4 persons who regularly attend church
are females; these females, by extension, carry more than 90% of the ministerial burden in these churches regardless of their orthodox or evangelical roots.
4) Only 20% of our Federal Parliamentarians are females;
5) Women make up more than 50% of the electorate; and
6) Women make up more than 50% of the local labour force
whose current total is about 28,000 workers.
The preceding data field shows that women continue to take on greater and greater roles in our families, our communities and our local economy. Women’s participation is evident in practically every career track, be it education; science and technology; agriculture;
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construction; finance; private sector leadership; arts and culture; healthcare; and public sector supervision and management.
As we celebrate International Women’s Day 2019 our Government has taken note of the continued impact of crime on our women. In 2017, there were approximately three (3) murders of young women in our Country. By March 1st, 2018 there was also a double murder of female siblings. Thankfully, there has been no repeat of this trend in 2019. Our national statistics also demonstrate that in 2018 there were some 120 cases of domestic violence (up to November) with 90 of them having female victims. This is an improvement over 2017 which saw almost 300 cases.
One of the core preoccupations of the Department of Gender Affairs continues to be the matter of domestic violence in our Federation. Too much of it is still occurring and there is a need to address this scourge at its root. The Ministry considers that part of the necessary turnaround demands gender sensitization for all; an examination of the manner in which we raise and socialize our young girls; anger management training; and the development of a greater sense of self-esteem among victims. The Ministry reminds all women that whatever they are willing to tolerate they will never be able to change. As such, women who are experiencing domestic violence need to promptly get out of such volatile and dangerous situations, seek help from law enforcement agencies and the
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Department of Gender Affairs, and access the available counselling services to help them overcome these negative domestic experiences and move on with their lives.
In observance of International Women’s Day 2019, the Department of Gender Affairs also calls on our Federation to remember in prayer the mothers of our young people who are caught up in the destructive spiral of gang violence which has led to the murder of their babies. Specifically, the Department asks that the Country cover in prayer and intercession the mothers of both victims and perpetrators of youth and gang violence. We remind everyone that no one wins when crime flourishes: families are forever fractured, and deaths of our young people to acts of violence impact negatively on our collective future, our national potential and our image to the rest of the World.
A number of special activities have been planned by the Department of Gender Affairs in observance of International Women’s Day 2019. As is customary, the activities are spread out over the entire month of March in order to maximize awareness and sensitization of the public to women’s issues. These activities include:
 Sunday, March 3rd – Staff of the Department of Gender Affairs worshipped at the Catholic Co-Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on East Independence Square;
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Monday, March 4th – Airing of Documentaries on the oldest woman in St. Kitts and Nevis, and Project Viola (Teen Mothers’ Programme);
 Friday, March 8th – Annual Awards Ceremony, to be held on the grounds of Government House, and during which time nine (9) women will be recognised for their contribution to national development;
 Monday, March 11th – Distribution of Care Packages to the eight (8) Women currently in Prison;
Wednesday, March 13th – Gender Affairs Staff Participating in ZIZ’s “Working for You” call-in Programme. Topic: “Women’s Contribution to the Economy”
 Friday, March 15th – Presentation in Schools & CFBC
 Thursday, March 21st – One-day Post-Launch Consultation on the Domestic Violence Complaints & Response Protocol. (Project launched in November 2018.)
A number of activities are also being planned on our sister island of Nevis to mark our 2019 International Women’s Day events.
The staging of our International Women’s Day 2019 celebrations would have been impossible without the dedication and hard work of the small staff at the Department of Gender Affairs. Led by Mrs Celia Christopher, Director of Gender Affairs, the Department has endeavoured to develop activities that are relevant, timely, practical
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and meaningful. These programmes fall within the wider mandate of the Department, which focuses on advocacy for gender-based development within the Federation. The Federal Government uses this opportunity to applaud Mrs Christopher and her team for their magnanimous efforts.
In closing this 2019 International Women’s Day address I again congratulate each and every woman in our Federation. By extension, I congratulate the nine (9) women who will are being recognised in St. Kitts for their meritorious service in the following fields:
Education – Community After-School activity for Primary School Children
 Technology
 Youth Volunteerism
 Contribution to the Care of the Elderly
 Culture – Contribution to the Development of Culture  Agriculture – Contribution to Livestock Farming
 Disaster Management
 Entrepreneurship – Women in Small Business
One of these awardees will be a personal nominee of the Hon Prime Minister, Dr the Hon Timothy Harris, and that individual will be
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recognised in one of the fields of endeavour listed earlier. A number of women in Nevis should also being recognised for their service to community life.
I should state that while we salute all of our 2019 International Women’s Day awardees we also pay homage to the countless number of women whose heroic contributions remain unheralded in terms of the socio-economic, cultural and political development of our Federation. These women include our mothers, sisters, aunts, grandmothers, teachers, close friends and neighbours who consistently and selflessly give, support, mentor, nurture and groom our Nation’s children and young adults so that they can eventually take their rightful places in society as tomorrow’s leaders.
May God bless all women in the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis. On behalf of the Federal Government I extend best wishes for a very memorable, pleasant, reflective, peaceful and meaningful celebration of International Women’s Day 2019.

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