Equality for women: yesterday, today and tomorrow
“Each time a woman stands up for herself, she stands up for all women” — Maya Angelou
On Tuesday, I had the opportunity to speak to a dynamic group of women as the guest speaker for the Bermuda Public Services Union International Women's Day. As the minister responsible for human rights and gender affairs, it was a privilege for me to recognise International Women’s Day 2022 and join in the campaign to celebrate and support the cultural, political and socioeconomic achievements of women everywhere.
We paused to celebrate and recognise women who are taking action against gender inequality globally by breaking down existing barriers and biases against women, and bringing to light the focus of this year, #BreakTheBias.
International Women’s Day is an important day on our calendar for our global community of women. Locally, here in Bermuda, it is an opportunity for us to advocate more specifically the necessary changes needed in our country.
Women have struggled for their rights within the cultural, social, political and economic spheres, and Bermuda is no exception. We have fought to overcome obstacles, but there are still significant inequalities that must be overcome and addressed. These gender inequalities continue to create bias in our community.
Despite significant strides for gender equality in Bermuda over the past few decades, imbalance and disconnection continue in areas such as violence against women and gender rate and pay gaps, for example.
As we reflect on the meaning of International Women's Day and move on with our day-to-day tasks, I want us as a community to not let International Women's Day be the only time we rally together to celebrate women in our community. We must stand up every day and speak out on the issues that we know are biased. We must be willing to challenge inequality head on.
I know this can seem difficult in such a small country, but as a community, we can #BreakTheBias by challenging existing inequalities such as:
• Women being excluded from giving their views
• All-male boards and/or committees
• Women not being shortlisted for jobs
• Workplace or job stereotypes that are negatively directed towards women
Yesterday, today and tomorrow, we celebrate the women of Bermuda who are trailblazers, and who have, against all odds, succeeded in breaking down barriers for girls and women in their respective fields.
We will continue to celebrate Bermudians such as Justice Charles-Etta Simmons, who paved the way for women in the legal arena; Dame Jennifer Smith, who became the first Progressive Labour Party premier, and more recently, we see the success of Dame Flora Duffy, dominating in the sport of triathlon, where women are vastly underrepresented in local and international sport.
As we reflect on the phenomenal women in our community, I want to encourage the people of Bermuda to make a difference, not just on International Women's Day, but every day. Let us strive to #BreakTheBias together for a more diverse, equitable and inclusive Bermuda, continuing the work of yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
• Tinée Furbert is the Minister of Social Development and Seniors, and the MP for St George’s South (Constituency 4)