Story Of Women’s Suffrage Movement Is Compelling

Tuesday 27th, November 2012 / 08:00 Published by

NASSAU, The Bahamas — The story of the Women’s Suffrage Movement in The Bahamas is a “powerful and compelling one” that is inextricably tied to a quiet revolution that not only led to Majority Rule, but ultimately the “birth” of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, Minister of Social Services and Community Development, Melanie S. Griffin told Parliament Monday.

Addressing a Joint Sitting of Parliament on a Resolution to Recognise, Honour and Salute the Women’s Suffrage Movement on the 50th Anniversary of the Enfranchisement of Women, Mrs. Griffin said like the tide on the sands of time, the women “refused to be held back in their quest to ensure that women from every nook and cranny of The Bahamas could hold their heads up high.”

The Joint Sitting of Parliament took place in the Lower Chamber of Parliament (House of Assembly).

“The celebration of this 50th anniversary has provided a unique opportunity for us to examine the work and times of the Movement and to learn about some of the inner thoughts of the leaders; of their stamina, determination and tenacity,” Mrs. Griffin said.

“We have been able to hear from living and walking historians about what made them tick and what drove them to relentlessly take on the establishment of the day in their search for social justice for women everywhere.

“Their story is a powerful and compelling one that is inextricably tied to a quiet revolution that led to majority Rule and ultimately the birth of a nation called the Commonwealth of The Bahamas on July 10, 1973,” Mrs. Griffin added.

Referencing a document she said was researched by Mr. Maurice Tynes, Chief Clerk of the House of Assembly, Mrs. Griffin said no discussion related to the struggle for electoral reform in The Bahamas would be complete without including the role women played in their fight for civil rights in general, and the Right to Vote, in particular.

Mrs. Griffin said the relentless pressure applied by the Women’s Suffrage Movement, played no small role in the eventual enactment of law to permit universal adult suffrage and to give women the same political rights as men.

“The women were indeed relentless. They petitioned the Governor; they petitioned the Secretary of State for the Colonies; they petitioned the United Nations and the continuously petitioned the House of Assembly,” the document concluded.

“So today, a grateful people have come to this place to celebrate and honour the leaders of the Women’s Suffrage Movement and those who supported their cause,” Mrs. Griffin said. “It is on their shoulders that every female politician – former and current – stands.

“It is on the foundation built by them that every female serving in leadership positions in every aspect of business, social, civic, religious and political life has built. It is through their efforts that women throughout the length and breadth of this Bahamas can truly say we have truly contributed to 50 years of nation-building.”

Mrs. Griffin said Bahamian women should not forget the key roles a number of men played in the Movement, among them, Mr. Rufus Ingraham, Parliamentarian and husband of Mrs. Mary Ingraham; Dr. Claudius R. Walker, the husband of Mabel Walker; Mr. William Cartwright, who moved for a Select Committee to amend the General Assembly Act, 1946, to make provision for universal suffrage; Sir Gerald Cash; Sir Lynden Pindling; Arthur Dion Hanna and Sir Randol Fawkes.

“We must salute the men who supported the women in their fight. Let me again thank the leaders and the women of the Women’s Suffrage, their children, families and friends as well as the men who supported their cause. We will not and we cannot forget their contributions and we must ensure that we teach them to our children and our children’s, children,” Mrs. Griffin added.

By Matt Maura
Bahamas Information Services

Caption: Minister of Social Services and Community Development, Melanie S. Griffin (second left) makes the short walk from the Churchill Building to the House of Assembly Monday for the Joint Sitting of Parliament. Mrs. Griffin was joined by (from left) Senator Heather Hunt; Mrs. Allyson Maynard Gibson, Government Leader in the Senate and Attorney-General, and Mrs. Hope Strachan, Member of Parliament for Seabreeze. (BIS Photo/Patrick Hanna) 

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