OUTSTANDING CARIBBEAN WOMEN – PT. 2

Dame YVONNE MAGINLEY, DCN., CMG., OBE., OD. 

Antigua & Barbuda’s Dame Yvonne Maginley DCN, CMG, OBE, OD has been recognized by the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) for her outstanding contribution to the development of tourism in the Caribbean. Dame Yvonne has been awarded the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award which is bestowed on high performance individuals who have truly made a difference in the Region by empowering individuals and providing a legacy for future generations. Dame Yvonne was nominated by the Antigua & Barbuda Tourism Authority and was selected by a panel of independent judges from a list of very outstanding, accomplished and distinguished nominees.

Colin James, CEO of the Antigua & Barbuda Tourism Authority remarked, “I was overjoyed when I was informed that Dame Yvonne had been selected to receive the CTO Lifetime Achievement Award. Dame Yvonne had a long and illustrious career in Tourism which benefited not only Antigua but the entire region. When I saw the criteria for nominees, Dame Yvonne came to mind immediately. She was instrumental in the formation of regional tourism bodies and has always been a strong proponent of pan regional destination marketing. We are very proud of her achievements.”

L-R: Dean Fenton, Sales Manager, ABTA; Derede Samuel-Whitlock, Director/USA; Dame Yvonne Maginley; Colin James, CEO, ABTA; Cortwright Marshall, CTO Chair, Board of Director.

In addition to her long standing career in tourism, Dame Yvonne is well known for her community service. She was a founding member of the Antigua Community Players and has served as their musical director since 1957. She has composed many national and folk songs which have been used to promote Antigua & Barbuda.

She is also a member of the board of trustees for the Betty’s Hope Trust. In 2004, she was invested as a Dame Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of the Nation (DCN) and has served as the governor-general’s deputy.

Dr. NESTA PATRICK, LLD.

Dr. NESTA PATRICK, LLD.

It was most likely that Nesta Patrick, first recipient of the CARICOM Triennial Award for Women, accepted the Honorary Doctor of Laws (LLD) conferred on her by the University of the West Indies at St. Augustine in 2001 with characteristic, humility and pride. This marked another milestone in the accomplished life of Ms Patrick, acclaimed women’s rights activist, social worker and advocate for the recognition of the mentally challenged. To be singled out as the first Caribbean woman to be honored for outstanding contribution to the region is a testimony to her remarkable sphere of influence and impact on the lives of women and children throughout the Caribbean.

Ms Patrick’s early passion for social work and the social development of individuals inspired her pursuit of tertiary education, which spanned the West Indies, Europe and North America. She attended the UWI in its formative years as the University College of the West Indies, in Mona, Jamaica and subsequently proceeded to the University of Bristol and Wales in the United Kingdom. These institutions provided the opportunity for her to receive professional training in Social Work, Child Care, Social Development and Policy Planning. Being raised in a family which valued education and which espoused personal achievement, Ms. Patrick broadened her university experience to include Columbia University and Pace University in the United States from which she graduated with a B.A and MBA in Professional Studies respectively.

Her participation in the first World Conference on Women held in Mexico in 1975 provided the stimulus for a life dedicated to public service and advancing the social and economic development of women. Working for and with the mentally challenged was an immense source of satisfaction and joy for her, translating into an unprecedented commitment to serving their interest and maintaining their placement in the public and regional agenda. She served as President of the Caribbean Mental Retardation Association. The Caribbean Women’s Association (CARIWA) owes its existence to the pioneering work of Nesta Patrick and her fellow co-founders. Retirement is no deterrent to her loyalty and dedication to the condition of women and children. She still contributes her time and experience at the Rape Crisis Center in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and working with youth.

Nesta Patrick is a true model of excellence and inspiration for all Caribbean women. Her outstanding career and lifetime achievements merited several honors and awards including the Government of Trinidad and Tobago National Award Public Service Medal of Merit for Community Service bestowed on her in 1979; the Caribbean Award for Mental Retardation in 1978 and the Award for Community Service by the Business and Professional Women’s Club in 1992.

Nesta Patrick’s dream is the attainment of a more even gender balance in society and she admonishes the region’s “educated progressive men and women” to become involved and committed in order to create a gender balance that is lacking in our society.

Nesta Patrick has also given of her time and energy to an impressive range of professional and social associations dedicated to women’s affairs and mental health including:

  • The Association for the Deaf
  • Friends of the Girl Guides
  • Friends of the POS General Hospital
  • The Association for Retarded Children
  • The Child Welfare League of Trinidad and Tobago, of which she has been President for 15 years, and a Member for the last 57 years
  • The Caribbean Association on Mental Retardation
  • The Cancer Society of Trinidad and Tobago
  • The Coterie of Social Workers, of which she has been a member since she was 19. As 1 of 3 honorary life members of the Coterie, Nesta Patrick is one of the pioneers who lobbied for the establishment of the popular breakfast shed
  • The YWCA, which she joined at age 19, and subsequently became a Board Member and Chairman for both the Port of Spain and San Fernando branches.
  • Last but certainly not least, is her continuing involvement in the Rape Crisis Center which Mrs Patrick founded in 1985. To this date, she still counsels rape victims and mans the Center’s hotline on weekends.
  • Nesta Patrick also broke the proverbial glass ceiling by becoming an Honorary Member of the Anglican Church’s Men’s Society.
 As testimony to the contribution of this remarkable woman of substance, a number of facilities in Trinidad and Tobago and the region bear her name:
  • The Wharton Patrick School for the Mentally Handicapped at St Ann’s Hospital
  • The Nesta Patrick Nursery School
  • Patrick House, at St Usurla’s primary school and
  • The Nesta Patrick Day Nursery in Port au Prince, Haiti

Dr. PEGGY ANTROBUS, Ph. D

Dr. Peggy Antrobus, third recipient of the CARICOM Triennial Award in 1990, has a true Caribbean cross-national identity. She was born in Grenada, acquired citizenship of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and now resides in Barbados. Her vast and much recognized work and contributions in the area of women’s affairs has earned her respect, admiration and acclaim both regionally and internationally. In preparation for a lifetime of service to the region that can, at the least, be described as illustrious and exceptional, Dr. Antrobus pursued studies in Economics and at the Bristol University in the United Kingdom and in Social Work at the Birmingham University. Her Ph. D in education was obtained from the University of Massachusetts.

The multifaceted and distinguished career record of Dr. Antrobus tells of a legendary advocate for women’s development whose wide ranging professional endeavours and experiences have been used to positively influence the course of women’s development in the Caribbean. Following a stint of service at the Jamaica Ministry of Finance in 1958, Dr. Antrobus assumed office as an Assistant Registrar at UWI, later transferring to academia as lecturer in economics, sociology and social work, contributing to the university’s academic prestige. Her career path led her to serve in multiple capacities within the Region and internationally with appointments which include: Chief Community Development Officer for St. Vincent (1969-1970), Director, Women’s Bureau, Office of the Prime Minister, Jamaica (1974-1977), Secretary, Caribbean Coordinating Committee on Women’s Affairs (1977-78), Tutor-Coordinator, Women and Development Unit (WAND) UWI Cave Hill (1978-1995). Consultant to UNIFEM (1998-99), Co-sponsor with Center of Concern, Washington DC for Strategic Planning Seminar on Gender and Trade (1998-2000). Several International agencies including CIDA, UNDP and UNIFEM benefited from her expert knowledge as a consultant.

As a member of numerous boards, advisory and steering committees among which are the International Women’s Tribune Center  U.S.A. the Global Fund for Women, U.S.A., the Grenada Education and Development Program  Meridians, a new inter-disciplinary feminist journal in the USA, the Structural Adjustment Review Initiative Network (SAPIN) Washington D.C. she shared her expertise and worked diligently to serve the interests of women and the region.

Through her service and enthusiastic leadership she forged new territory for women as an instrumental founding member of the Caribbean Association for Feminist Research and Action (CAFRA) and Development alternatives with Women for a New Era (DAWN). She contributed to the vitality of DAWN functioning as its General Coordinator from 1990-1996. She has written and published extensively on issues pertinent to the role of women and their development.

Dr.Peggy  Antrobus and Dr. the Hon. Dunstan St. Omer.

The CARICOM Triennial Award is among several prestigious honors and awards bestowed on this extraordinary Caribbean woman. A select few are the Distinguished Service Award from the UWI Guild of Graduates for outstanding contributions to the development of women in the Caribbean and for commitment to Third World Feminism in 1990; the “Women Who Dared Award” from the national Black Women’s Health Project in 1993; the UNIFEM Anniversary Award “for extraordinary commitment to the world’s women” 1995 and the UWI 50th Anniversary Award “For Contribution to the Work of the University” 1998.

MAGDA LOIS MURIEL POLLARD

Magda Lois Muriel Pollard, national of Guyana, and stalwart women’s activist was fittingly bestowed the honor of the fourth CARICOM Triennial Award for Women in 1993. Throughout her country of birth and the wider Caribbean region, the name Magda Pollard is synonymous with the movement for women’s empowerment and women’s rights. The creation of a liberating and sustaining environment for women is the passion which fuels her lifelong and consistent service in the arena of women’s development.

Ms.Pollard commenced her career in the field of Home Economics, pursuing this endeavor to the university level and earning a degree in Home Economics from the Glasgow University and West of Scotland College of Domestic Science in the United Kingdom. A significant part of her post University years were spent on return to her home land at the Carnegie School of Home Economics as both lecturer and Principal. Her appointment as the first Women’s Affairs Officer at the CARICOM Secretariat opened vast opportunities for her to impact the lives, not only of Guyanese women, but women throughout the Region. With boldness, she accepted the challenge of spearheading the development of a program for women within CARICOM. The many initiatives and program that emanated from the Women’s Desk gave impetus to the process of gender mainstreaming within CARICOM and set the agenda for the integration of actions and policies to benefit women in regional program.

Ms.Pollard’s invaluable contribution to women’s development in the Caribbean captured regional attention and earned her several honors and awards in addition to the CARICOM Triennial Award. She has received the 1992 CARIFESTA Award for Women, two national awards, the Cacique Crown of Honor and the Golden Arrowed of Achievement as well as the special award of the Caribbean Association of Home Economists of which she was a founding member.

Her career of service extends to membership of various commissions and bodies with women’s welfare as the primary goal and she is currently Chairperson of the Guyana National Commission on Women. Ms Pollard was at the helm of a regional project to prepare model legislation for the removal of all forms of discrimination against women which addressed rights of citizenship, inheritance, domestic violence and sexual offences. Significant hallmarks of her career included her contribution to the establishment of focal points in government departments to address the issue of the advancement of women. During her tenure she organised for the creation of Women’s Bureaus in the PECS. Ms Pollard spearheaded a three-year program – Management for Development: Effecting Change whose target included senior women administrators. Her illustrious career spans participation in the emerging network among UN specialized agencies, representation at various regional and UN Fora; and the creation of inroads in strengthening relations between governments and non-governmental organizations. She has to her credit two publications on Home Economics, which she has co-authored.

A woman of grace and dignity, Magna Pollard is highly regarded by her peers and the wider community. Her continued active engagement in work to raise the level of consciousness about the status of women and to engender necessary reform attests to a deep and unswerving life commitment to creating a better environment within which women would live.

Professor JOYCELIN MASSIAH

In acknowledgement of her exceptional career accomplishments, Professor Joycelin Massiah was conferred the CARICOM Triennial Award for Women in 1996. A true Caribbean citizen, Professor Massiah’s life path transcends Caribbean boundaries having been born in Guyana, studied and worked for several years in Jamaica and now residing as a citizen of Barbados. As a renowned Caribbean academic, scholar and intellectual, she has, through her scholarly research, contributed significantly to shaping the agenda on women and development in the Region and the movement for promoting women’s rights. A UWI graduate in Economics and Sociology, Joycelin Massiah returned to her alma mater and served with distinction as a member of the UWI community for several years as researcher and lecturer. She provided extended extraordinary service to the University, first as Research Assistant at the Mona Campus, as Research Fellow at the Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER) Cave Hill, and finally as Director of ISER, Cave Hill from 1974 to 1992. Her remarkable record of involvement with the UWI included membership of the Senate of the University.

Professor Massiah’s career is characterized by many “firsts”, a fitting testimony to a career hinged on nothing short of excellence. As first female Head of Department at Cave Hill, first Caribbean female Professor in the Faculty of social Sciences, first female Director in any of the branches of ISER and first head of the Caribbean Office of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), she moved the process of incorporating Caribbean women into the hierarchy of leadership one step further.

Professor Massiah is well known for her seminal research project on “Women in theCaribbean” which was inspired by a recognition of the dearth of data on women in the region, needed to inform development initiatives. Her work in this area has had a profound impact on the establishment of a frame of reference for analysing and comprehending the issues related to women, their status and development in the region.

As a highly recognized scholar, Professor Massiah was invited to serve on several regional and international committees and boards among which is the Board of Directors of the International Centre for Research on Women and the Advisory Committee of the Population Council on Family Structure, Female Headship and Poverty. In a consultative capacity, she has authored several papers and reports for regional and international bodies such as CARICOM, UNESCO, PAHO and USAID.

In her current capacity as Regional Programme Advisor to the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) based in Barbados, Prof. Massiah has responsibility for 26 countries in the region. The post offers her remarkable opportunities to interface with organization and agencies, government and non-government in furthering her dedicated efforts to create conditions of betterment for the women in her region.

The Government of Barbados honored the work and lifetime contributions of Professor Massiah by awarding her the Golden Cross of Merit, Barbados’s third highest award in 1998.

Professor Massiah pictured with the UN Caribbean Women group.

The Honorable Lady BUSTAMANTE, O.J., J.P

Gladys Bustamante, OJ., J.P (8 March 1912 – 25 July 2009) was a Jamaican workers’ and women’s rights activist and the widow of Jamaica’s first Prime Minister, Sir Alexander Bustamante.Bustamante, a prominent member of the Jamaican trade union movement, was affectionately known as “Lady B” by Jamaicans.

She has been called the “Mother of the Nation” due to her relationship with many of Jamaica’s founder Jamaican Prime Minister Bruce Golding has called Bustamante ” an icon of political struggles” in Jamaica’s march towards independence.

Bustamante was born Gladys Maud Longbridge on 8 March 1912, in Parson Reid, Westmoreland Parish, near Aston, to Frank Longbridge, a farmer, and Rebecca Blackwood, a housewife. In her memoir, The Memoirs of Lady Bustamante, she described her birth as a “welcome baby”, “Being born out of wedlock was not a major issue in rural Jamaica then.” She was raised by her grandparents in rural Jamaica following her mother’s move to Cuba when she was just 3 years old. Longbridge enrolled in Ashton Primary School.

She moved to Kingston with her aunt, and lived in the city’s Jones Town neighborhood.She enrolled at the Tutorial Secondary and Commercial College, a private secondary school, where she studied to be a secretary.

Longbridge returned to her native Westmoreland in the 1930s, but was unable to find employment during the Great Depression. Unable to find a job, she moved back to Kingston, Jamaica, in 1934.

Upon her return to Kingston, she began working as a cashier at a restaurant called Arlington House, which had become an important meeting place for members of the Jamaican colonial legislative assembly from rural areas of the island. Longbridge met Alexander Bustamante, a politician and trade unionist who would become her future husband, while working at Arlington House. He pronounced her name “Glad Ice” and called her “Miss G” at the time.

Longbridge was hired by Jamaican businessman Alexander Bustamante, who later founded the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (BITU), as his personal secretary on 9 March 1936. Bustamante and Longbridge would form a long personal and professional relationship which would last decades. She would remain his secretary through his years as a trade unionist and then a politician until he became Prime Minister of Jamaica in 1962.

Longbridge became active in the Jamaican trade union movement as a result of her employment with Bustamante and was considered a prominent member of the movement since 1938.She travelled extensively with Bustamante throughout Jamaica to deal with the concerns of the islands’ workers. Longbridge became the treasurer and day-to-day decision maker for the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (BITU) from the time of the union’s foundation. The Bustamante Industrial Trade Union was the largest organization in Jamaica at the time, making Longbridge arguably the most influential woman in Jamaica.

Bustamante later described the role of women in the Jamaican trade union movement in her memoir, “We women were the mainstay of the union’s organisation, though we could hardly have functioned without the brave men who toiled day and night, facing all sorts of criticism and opposition as they tried to help the workers.”

She also played a prominent role in the founding of the Jamaica Labour Party by Alexander Bustamante in July 1943.

In 1951, Longbridge agreed to run for political office in Eastern Westmoreland. She lost the election, which pleased her as she had only reluctantly agreed to seek elected office. At the time, the Jamaica Gleaner newspaper described her as “the happiest loser” of the election.

Jamaican political and union life during the late colonial and post-independence eras centered largely on the rivalry between Bustamante and Norman Manley. While the two men, who were cousins, often feuded in public, relations between Gladys Bustamante and Manley’s wife, Edna Manley, were much more cordial.

Gladys Longbridge married Alexander Bustamante on 7 September 1962, shortly after Jamaica achieved independence from the United Kingdom in August 1962. She was 28 years younger than he. Bustamante remained the first Prime Minister of Jamaica until his resignation in 1967 due to ill health.He had been effectively incapacitated for the last two years of his premiership due to illness.

When they first met in the 1930s, Gladys Bustamante attended the Moravian Church of the Redeemer. She later converted to Roman Catholicism, her husband’s religion.

Gladys Bustamante cared for her husband at their home, which was called Bellencita, for the remainder of his life. Alexander Bustamante died on 6 August 1977. Bustamante described herself as “paralysed with grief” following her husband’s death. She coped with her husband’s death by becoming intimately involved with Jamaican charitable causes.

Bustamante became a patron of the Bustamante Hospital for Children in Kingston, named for her husband. Much of her work focused on the plight of poor, working class Jamaicans and their children. She worked to improve thestandard of living for workers in Jamaica’s shipping ports and sugarcane communities. She also worked to improve the lives of impoverished children and their families.

Gladys Bustamante received a number of domestic and international awards for her work. She was awarded the Order of Jamaica in 1982.The government of Venezuela bestowed Mrs. Bustamante with the Orchid Award in 1979 in recognition of her husband’s career. The Jamaican government further awarded Bustamante the Plaque for Outstanding Public Service to Jamaica in 1986 to mark the end of the United Nations Decade for Women (1976–1986).

The Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation (KSAC) awarded Gladys Bustamante the Key to the city of Kingston on 16 October 2006, which was declared to be Lady Bustamante Day

In 2009, Prime Minister Bruce Golding and the leadership of the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (BITU) celebrated Bustamante’s 97th birthday at her residence in Irish Town, Saint Andrew Parish, Jamaica.

Bustamante continued to hold the title of honorary treasurer of the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union at the time of her death in 2009. She was also a trustee and executive member of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) that her husband had founded.

Gladys Bustamante had been ill for several years and had been confined to her Irish Town home for the last two years of her life. Her condition suddenly worsened around 10:00 am on 25 July 2009. She was rushed to the hospital by her caregivers. However, Bustamante died at approximately 4:40 pm on 25 July 2009, at the Tony Thwaites Wing of the University Hospital of the West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica. She was 97 years old. Bustamante had no children.

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