Categorized | National News

Bahamians Encouraged to Vote In Upcoming Referendum

Members of the Coalition of Women’s Rights Advocates and Equality are condemning all forms of discrimination on the basis of sex and are advising Bahamians to not be distracted by the minor issues involving the upcoming constitutional referendum.

In a press conference held outside the House of Assembly yesterday afternoon, members of the coalition gathered in a show of support for the proposed constitutional changes that seek to widen gender equality and democracy, and to encourage Bahamians to educate themselves about what is happening.

Bahamas Crisis Centre Director Dr. Sandra Dean-Patterson, who is part of the coalition, said one of the things the coalition will do is continuously do their part to educate Bahamians on the issues.

“This is an opportunity for us as a country to stand up for men and women as equals,” she said.

“It is a battle we have had for many years and for us in the trenches at the Crisis Centre where we see the silent victims who suffer as a result of gender based discrimination and gender inequality, this is a time for us to make a difference. This is a time for us not to be distracted by the naysayers and the calls for same sex marriage, that’s not what this is about. This is about men and women as equal, working together and having the same opportunities to pass citizenship on to their children.”

Writer, poet and women’s rights activist Marion Bethel said now is the time for the country to build upon what happened during the Woman’s Suffrage Movement in the 40s and 50s.

“I support the principle of equality of women and men and to support the principle of non-discrimination on the basis of sex,” she said.

“We are here because this is the time for constitutional amendments to reflect those two principles. The women of the suffrage movement fought for civil liberties about racial discrimination, the right to vote, the right for educational opportunity and others issues. We have many of them in place but we do not have equality between women and men. We have a tremendous legacy from women like Dame Doris Johnson, Mable Walker on which we can stand.”

She said this is not the time to be quiet and that members of the coalition will not be quieted until there is equality between men and women.

“We want equality and we want that reflected in our Constitution,” Mrs. Bethel said.

“We will not stand back, we will fight and we will make this happen in the spirit of the suffrage movement. We are asking the Bahamian people to stand with us because this is the time. There is no other time to do this but now.”

Members of the coalition also said the referendum is an opportunity for Bahamians to move The Bahamas “a step closer” to living the truth by leveling the playing field and declaring unequivocally that any form of discrimination on the basis of sex is not tolerated.

The referendum is scheduled for November 6.

Prime Minister Perry Christie presented the amendments to change the constitution to the House of Assembly in July.

“The changes to the Constitution foreshadowed by these bills will not only help remediate the problem of structural gender inequality and discrimination in our country but will also assist in bringing greater inclusiveness and cohesion to family structures while at the same time ensuring that The Bahamas lives up to its international obligations in these matters,” the prime minister said at the time.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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