And thank you for joining us tonight as we discuss the advancement of women throughout the Commonwealth.
The Government of The Bahamas is honoured to host this gathering of public sector, private sector, and civil society leaders, who share a real commitment to forging a better way forward.
Only when we do more to protect and empower women in our societies, will our communities and societies achieve our full potential.
As we work toward our promise to bring a “New Day” to The Bahamas, my administration relies on a diverse team with broad expertise and varied backgrounds, inclusive of women occupying key positions in the Cabinet and throughout the government.
While we acknowledge this progress, we still want to see more political and government participation, and we know that achieving this requires active leadership and thoughtful policies. We also know that despite the great strides which have been made by women in the workplace, women can occupy more of the top spots in our private sector corporate structures. All of our children should have an expectation that their hard work, excellence, and achievements will be evaluated fairly.
One element to driving progress means doing more to make sure entrepreneurs have access to the capital and technical support necessary to bring their entrepreneurial dreams into fruition. It’s time to demolish the walls of the old boys’ clubs – only when opportunities are opened up more widely will we truly be making the most of the talent and ingenuity of all of humanity. The world has a lot of urgent problems to solve – we need all hands on deck.
It is a terrible and tragic reality that many women are not able to fully dedicate themselves to developing their talents and careers because they suffer from violence.
My administration has sought to address the social and systemic factors contributing to violence against women and girls through increased funding to construct a new women’s shelter and to provide legal aid for survivors of domestic violence through social services and the Office of the Judiciary. We have also made meaningful progress in protecting survivors of domestic abuse and sexual violence through the recently passed Protection Against Violence Act, which establishes and protects the rights of victims, allows for the allocation of more resources, and focuses on sensitisation and training within the police force and other organisations that work directly with survivors.
The levels of violence against women and girls remain unacceptable. We can’t stop working on this issue until women are safe everywhere – whether they are walking alone at night, in their workplaces and schools, or at home with loved ones.
As we address these pressing issues, we must also be more inclusive of women living with disabilities to ensure that every woman feels empowered, protected, and included in our plans.
Many who live in coastal areas and small island developing states will bear the worst of the impacts of climate change. This is especially true for lower-income families who lack the resources to relocate or adequately prepare for the severe storms and flooding associated with rising global temperatures.
It is so critical that we constantly evaluate how different issues affect members of our population differently, and make sure we are designing policies that are effective for all.
The time is now for our Commonwealth community to be unabashedly ambitious in our goals and plans. We need more than slogans – we need commitments.
Let’s maximise the opportunity before us to exchange ideas, learn from one another, and lay the foundation for more effective policy solutions. WAMM provides an ideal platform through which we can have the conversations that can change the world.
The discussions and resolutions that emerge will pave the path for the agenda for the upcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Samoa. Your work can be the catalyst for much-needed momentum toward a better, more just world for everyone.
And for that, I thank you.