INFLUENTIAL CARIBBEAN WOMEN – Part 9

Deputy Governor ANYA WILLIAMS

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Permanent Secretary of Finance Anya Williams has been appointed as the new deputy governor of the Turks and Caicos Islands by William Hague, U.K. Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs began in October, 2012, when the new Constitution took effect.

“Anya Williams was selected through a rigorous and open selection process,” said His Excellency the Gov. Ric Todd. “She was a very strong candidate who has previously played a positive role in introducing reform in the Ministry of Finance in the TCI civil service and has worked with all ministries, departments and statutory bodies throughout government in her previous roles.”

The deputy governor is head of the public service, a non-voting member of Cabinet and acts as governor when the governor is absent from the territory. Williams will be the line manager of the permanent secretaries and will chair a permanent secretaries’ committee that will prepare legislation and decisions for Cabinet.

The position of deputy governor has been vacant since September 2009. The Constitution requires the appointment of a deputy governor who is a Turks and Caicos Islander.

Williams was named permanent secretary of the Ministry of Finance and Economics in February 2012. Government made the following statement about her qualifications at that time:

“Ms. Williams brings to the position effective management, communication, leadership and interpersonal skills; ability to prepare and present clear and concise reports; strong presentation skills; and excellent team-working and multi-tasking ability. She has a successful track record with completing given assignments on time, works well on her own initiative, welcomes the challenge of problem solving and is versatile and adaptable.

Premier-and-Dep_-GovTurks and Caicos Islands Deputy Governor Anya Williams and the Premier Dr. Rufus Ewing.

“Ms. Williams has, since 2003, worked as Budget Director in the Ministry of Finance where, among other things she is responsible for the preparation of the Government’s annual budget and the implementation and monitoring of that budget through monthly analysis of revenue and expenditure. She also oversees the management of 84 functioning departments’ revenue, expenditure and other operations; and ensures the effective utilization of resources as it relates to investment opportunities, re-positioning of funds to meet priorities, and program performance. She is one of the principal advisers to Government on all policy and financial related matters. Ms. Williams has also worked as Accountant with Torrin’s Surveys and Intern with the TCI Financial Control Unit Office.

“Her major accomplishments include undertaking a successful operations review of the Government which led to the cancellation, review and re-tendering of services resulting in cost savings in a one year period of over $80 million in 2008-09. She played an active role as a Member of the TCI Tourist Board and through critical review and re-negotiations  was able to rid the body of $8 million in debt. She served as a member of the Ten Year Development Plan Working Group and the National Health Insurance Plan Working Group.

“Ms. Williams holds Masters and Bachelors degrees in Accounting and an Associate degree in Law, English and Accounting.”

DAME MARY EUGENIA CHARLES

Eugenia_Charles

Dame Eugenia Charles, the former Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Dominica led her island nation for 15 years, during which she became known as the “Iron Lady of the Caribbean” for her steely determination to put her country on the path to stability and prosperity and for her outspoken stance on controversial issues.

She attracted international attention in 1983 when, as chairman of the Organisation of East Caribbean States, she persuaded President Ronald Reagan to send American troops to Grenada, Dominica’s neighbour and fellow Commonwealth member, to crush a military coup by Cuban-backed leftists who had seized power on the island after overthrowing (and subsequently murdering) its moderate prime minister, Maurice Bishop.

The American invasion caused outrage among Commonwealth members and at the UN. It also embarrassed the British prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, who had not been warned about the venture until it was too late to do anything to prevent it. In the longer term, however, the American intervention came to be viewed as an “historic marker” which had reversed the tide of Communist infiltration in the region.

Eugenia Charles remained staunch in her defence of the invasion, regarding it as a “pre-emptive strike” which had removed a “dangerous threat to peace and security”. When Labour’s foreign affairs spokesman, Denis Healey, accused her of having been virtually kidnapped by the Americans, she turned the tables on her accuser by retorting that he would never have dared to make such an insulting remark about the Prime Minister of Canada: “It’s only because we’re small and black that he’s prepared to say that.” In response to criticism by sundry African leaders, she drily conceded that Caribbean countries had asked themselves Robert Mugabe’s question, “Who would be next?” as they looked at Grenada. That was why they had supported the American rescue operation. “The Grenadians wanted it, and that’s all that counts,” she said. “I don’t care what the rest of the world thinks.”

EugeniaCharlesCharles meets with American President Ronald Reagan in the White House’s Oval Office.

The granddaughter of a former slave, Mary Eugenia Charles was born on May 15 1919 at Pointe Michel, near the Dominican capital of Roseau. Her father, John Baptiste Charles, was a successful planter and investor, though it was her mother, Josephine, who dominated her upbringing and encouraged her in her career.

Eugenia Charles was educated at convents in Dominica and Grenada and, after leaving school, took a secretarial course. To improve her shorthand, she practised taking notes in courtrooms, an experience that aroused her interest in the law. After studying at the University of Toronto and the LSE, she was called to the bar by the Inner Temple in 1947. She returned to Dominica to become the island’s first woman lawyer, opening a practice in Roseau.

Eugenia Charles became interested in politics and, though not active in any party, gained a reputation as an outspoken critic of government abuses and official corruption through the acidic letters she sent to newspapers.

When, in 1968, the ruling Labour Party passed a law of sedition to silence critics, she joined with others to form an organisation called Freedom Fighters and travelled round the country to address protest rallies. A year later, Freedom Fighters developed into the centre-Right Dominica Freedom Party, and Eugenia Charles reluctantly agreed to become party leader. In 1970 five party members were elected to the legislature and, although she was not among them, Eugenia Charles was able under the consitution to take an appointed seat.

At that time Dominica, which since 1967 had been part of the six-member West Indies Associated States dependent on Great Britain on a voluntary basis, was moving towards independence. In 1977 Eugenia Charles joined a delegation that went to London for independence talks.

After formal independence was declared in 1978, she led the opposition to the scandal-ridden Labour administration of Patrick John, speaking out against the government’s alleged secret business dealings with South Africa and the economic mismanagement that had brought the country to the verge of bankruptcy.

In an atmosphere of mounting public unrest, the Freedom Party gained popularity and was joined by several government ministers. In June 1979, following a general strike, the John government was forced out of office. An interim administration under James Seraphine fared little better, and Dominica’s woes were compounded by Hurricane David, which struck the island in August 1979, killing 42 people, leaving 65,000 homeless and devastating the island’s banana crop, its main source of income. The following year the government yielded to public pressure and called a general election for July 21 1980. Eugenia Charles’s party won with more than 52 per cent of the vote.

From the beginning, Eugenia Charles made clear her determination to lead from the front, taking over, in addition to her prime ministerial responsibilities, the key portfolios of foreign affairs and development and finance.

SNAPSHOT: DOMINICA

Within months she had dismissed corrupt officials, penalised tax dodgers and ordered the nation’s 200-strong defence force to disband and hand over its arms to the police, after military officers were found to have been selling weapons to Rastafarian marijuana growers. Within 18 months she had successfully repulsed three coup attempts, two of them orchestrated by Patrick John, who, with his chief agents was arrested and jailed.

In 1981, with American support, she launched a wide-ranging reform programme in education, health care and economic development. By the following year, inflation had fallen from 30 per cent to four per cent; new light industries were starting up; agricultural production improved; the tourist industry increased substantially; and the balance of trade deficit was cut by a half.

Eugenia Charles regarded herself very much as the mother of her people, taking a tough line with drug growers, and rejecting overtures from foreign businessmen wanting to establish casinos or night clubs on the island, fearing that such establishments might attract criminal elements. Buoyed by the success of her domestic policies and her reputation for tough and principled leadership, she won two more five-year terms.

charles-and-thatcherDame Mary Eugenia Charles (left) with British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi, at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Conference in India in 1983

Mary Eugenia Charles was knighted by Queen Elizabeth 11 at Harare, Zimbabwe in 1991, a fitting tribute to her distinguished career as lawyer, politician and journalist. She retired from the duties of Office in 1995 and very soon enrolled at the John Hopkins School of International Studies where she studied the European Union, the United States of America and Canada.

When asked to define the difference between male and female political leadership, Eugenia Charles observed: “Men tend to make decisions and leave it to others to carry out. Women follow up their actions to see what is happening to their plan.” She saw little place for western-style feminism in Dominica’s matriarchal society: “In Dominica, we really live women’s lib,” she explained. “We don’t have to expound it.”

In February 2003 the Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community conferred upon her the Order of the Caribbean Community.

Eugenia Charles, who was created DBE in 1992, lived with her father until he died in 1983 aged 107. She never married. Dame Charles died in 2005 at age 86.

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DAME PAMELA GORDON-BANKS

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Making history as the first female Premier of Bermuda, Dame Pamela Gordon-Banks is the youngest daughter of noted labor leader and parliamentarian Dr. E.F. “Mazumbo” Gordon. When Pamela Gordon was sworn in as the premier on March 27, 1997, she became not only the first woman but also the youngest person ever to hold that post [aged 41 years]

Born on September 2, 1955 in Bermuda, she was the youngest of five children born to Mildred Layne Bean and Dr. E.F. Gordon. Her mother was pregnant when Dr. Gordon died in September 1955, and Ms.Gordon was born six months after his death.

Dr. Gordon and Mildred Bean never married, as Dr. Gordon was a Roman Catholic and, according to a strict interpretation of church laws, forbidden to divorce his first wife, Clara. Ms. Gordon was baptized Catholic and grew up at “Beulah,” the Gordon family estate, where her father used to hold meetings with his political supporters. Without him around, life was a struggle for Ms. Gordon and her siblings Olympia, Patricia, Keith and Edgar. Her mother worked as a switchboard operator to support the family. She attended Central School [now Victor Scott] and Berkeley Institute. She left school age of 16, when she became pregnant with her daughter Veronica. She later married the child’s father, Ronald Furbert and subsequently had a son. The couple later divorced.

Dame Gordon BanksLeft is DAME GORDON-BANKS

For a time, she owned and managed a restaurant, The Moonglow, in St. George’s, and worked as a sales accountant at St. George’s Club. She went on to earn her college degree in commerce from Queen’s University.

Entering the fray of Bermudian politics, she became a Senator in 1990. In March of 1992, Premier John Swan appointed her to his cabinet as Minister of Youth Development.

She later served as Minister of the Environment, Planning, and Recreation in the cabinet of Premier David J. Saul. In October of 1993, Ms. Gordon was elected to Bermuda’s House of Assembly as the representative for Southampton West.

In March of 1997, Premier David Saul announced his resignation and a contest for the leadership of the UBP ensued. Ms. Gordon and Irving Pearman quickly emerged as the front runners, with Gordon emerging victorious and was sworn in as premier by Governor Lord Waddington on March 27, 1997.

She served as Premier until the PLP won the 1998 November election.

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SENATOR IRENE SANDIFORD-GARNER

542247_10151334758018189_695357494_nSenator Irene Sandiford-Garner was born in the United Kingdom of Barbadian parents and has lived in Barbados since the age of 8.

She holds a post-graduate Diploma in Management and an MBA from the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus; qualifications from the Chartered Institute of Marketing, UK; and the Credit Union National Association of America (CUNA).  She also studied journalism at the Virginia Commonwealth University at Richmond on a scholarship from her then employers, the Nation Publishing Company, Barbados.

A staunch credit unionist, the Senator spent her latter 10 working years with the Barbados Public Workers’ Co-operative Credit Union Ltd., Barbados largest credit union, initiating their launch into the United States in 1996 and facilitating the creation and introduction of financial products and services.

Mrs. Sandiford-Garner was appointed to the Senate in February 2008 as Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Culture and Community Development.  She was subsequently assigned to the Prime Minister’s Office and became the country’s Principal Delegate to CIM (Inter American Commission of Women) in August 2008.  She is currently Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Health.

Senator Sandiford-Garner has participated in the 25th Regional Women of the Church of God Symposium; UNIFEM workshop in Trinidad & Tobago “HIV/Aids and Sex Workers In the Region”; delivered the feature address at the Caribbean Institute of Women in Leadership launch; was sole discussant in UNIFEM panel/interview re: “Women in Local Politics”; featured speaker for the 2009 International Women’s Day symposium organised by the National Organisation of Women (NOW) and she recently opened a National Organisation of Women (NOW) Symposium on The Global Recession: Its Impact on Women and Children.

filesPM Kamla Persad-Bisessar chatting with Sen. Irene Sandiford-Garner, Vice President of the Inter-American Commission for Women.

In early 2010 Senator Sandiford-Garner was invited by the CIM to represent the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) at a round table discussion hosted at the Organisation of American States (OAS) headquarters in Washington DC to launch the Inter American Year of Women.

She also represented her country at the European Economic Commission (ECCLAC) XI Regional conference on Women in Latin America and the Caribbean held in Brasilia, Brazil 13-16 July 2010. In early 2011 she presented Barbados’ report to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women at UN Headquarters, and participated in a workshop on behalf of the CIM for young women in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

A prolific writer, the Senator, as a freelancer, authored a popular weekly column entitled Candidly Speaking which appeared in the island’s widest circulated daily for seven unbroken years before her active participation in local politics necessitated its conclusion in 2006.

Senator Sandiford-Garner and her husband own two businesses and are parents of two young men aged 23 and 19.

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Elegant Invitations

 

MARIA L. PHILOMENA LIBERIA-PETERS

Liberia PetersMaria … Philomena Liberia – Peters(b. May 20, 1941, Willemstad, Curacao, Prime Minister of the Netherlands Antilles (1984-85, 1988-93). She organized parents’ groups for political and social action and joined the National People’s Party (NVP). After she was approached to run for office, she won a seat on the Curacao island council in 1975. That body named her (1975-80) to an executive council which met regularly with Queen Beatrix’s representative. In 1982, Liberia-Peters was elected to the State (legislature) of the Netherlands Antilles and became Minister of Economic Affairs (December 1982-July 1983) in a coalition government which collapsed in June 1984. In September that same year, she was asked to form a new coalition government. Her first period as Prime Minister lasted until 1985, when political events intervened to make her, instead, leader of the opposition. She came back into the Prime Minister-ship in the spring of 1988. In 1993, her party was again defeated and she became head of the opposition once more, serving as a member of parliament and political leader of the NVP until 1994

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The Honorable JULIANA O’CONNOR-CONNOLLY, JP

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Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, JP is a Caymanian politician and the current Premier of the Cayman Islands. O’Connor-Connolly has served as premier since 19 December 2012, having succeeded McKeeva Bush, who was removed by way of a no confidence motion the previous day. O’Connor-Connolly currently serves as the second elected member for the district of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, serving her fourth term in the Legislative Assembly of the Cayman Islands.

O’Connor-Connolly is the first-ever female Premier of the Cayman Islands. Before becoming Premier, she was the Territory’s Deputy Premier serving from November 2009 until December 2012. In 1997 Mrs. O’Connor-Connolly became Cayman’s first woman minister when she was chosen to fill a vacancy on Executive Council as the Minister of Community Affairs, Sports, Women, Youth and Culture. O’Connor-Connolly has previously served as Speaker of the Legislative Assembly from November 2001 to October 2003. From October 2003 to April 2005 she served as Minister for Planning, Communications, District Administration and Information Technology.

O’Connor-Connolly was elected Deputy Premier during the Cayman Islands general election in 2009, and in addition to assuming the post of Deputy Premier, she served as Minister of District Administration, Works, Lands and Agriculture. In 2012 O’Connor-Connolly assumed the post of Premier of the Cayman Islands she also currently serves as Minister of Finance, District Administration, Works, Lands and Agriculture.

Juliana

Mrs. O’Connor-Connolly has been elected to the Legislative Assembly since 1996; she is the first woman to represent the Sister Islands. In November 2001 she was a founding member of the United Democratic Party. Born and raised on Cayman Brac, she first pursued a career in teaching but later received a law degree from the University of Liverpool and was a practicing attorney before entering politics.

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