Thirteen Dominican women were recognized at the Exceptional Women’s Award Ceremony held at the Old Mill Cultural Centre on Wednesday night.
The ceremony, organized by the Ministry of Ecclesiastical Affairs, Family and Gender Affairs, formed part of the activities for International Women’s Day which was celebrated on Friday the 8th of March.
The award recipients were Bishop Alice Jacob and Bertha Joseph for Church and for Excellence in Agriculture – , Lilian Marcellin, Elizabeth and Sybil Alfred and Helena Williams.
Gloria Walsh and Vena Royer received the Community Development Award while Erma Lafond of Canefield, Niomi John of Goodwill and Police Officer, Vernelle Shillingford received the family life awards.
President of the Dominica Cancer Society Yvonne Alexander, wife of Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, Melissa Skerrit and Cheryl Rolle of Sagicor received the leadership awards.
One of the awardees, Niomi John said she owed her award to her contribution made to children over the years.
“Basically I was awarded based on my contribution to some of the young children,” she said.
According to John , her sister passed her away 10 years ago and she took in her daughter.
She went on to say that because of her passion for children, the less fortunate, she does a hand-sub every year, “and I use that hand-sub to at least send one child to school”
“That is what I do on a yearly basis, that’s one of my aims,” she stated.
Childcare advocate Gloria Walsh said she was extremely happy to receive this award.
“I am feeling very elated, I must say, because it has been a long, tiring road in doing that kind of a work , but with God, all things are possible and despite of all my financial challenges, I have managed to stay afloat doing the work I have to do with the children and the youth…,”Walsh stated.
She mentioned that at present, she continues to work with young people and said that on April 7th, they will be embarking on a beatification project. .
“We also have another aspect of our program where we are getting the young people to volunteer in different categories,” she explained.
Meantime, Social Development Planner in the Ministry of Planning, Dr. Kyra Paul, who was a guest speaker at the ceremony said Dominican women, like women around the world, regularly suffer violations of their human rights throughout their lives and, “most times they are unaware that they are victims or perhaps indirect perpetrators of the phenomenon by our own deportments or ignorance.”
According to her, when women almost universally have primary responsibility for unpaid household labour and family care responsibilities that restrict their abilities to participate in paid work, and even when women do work in the public space, “child birth exacerbates the wage gender gap and puts a significant dent in women’s lifetime earnings relative to other workers.”
Paul stated further that while there is a shift in school enrollment and completion for young girls, the same does not apply for boys.
“When our young boys drop out from school, abuse drugs, suffer from mental illness, are imprisoned, it affects the well-being of the entire society and the economy, and they don’t have the benefits of equality either,” she explained.