March 06, 2016
Hon. Cora Richardson-Hodge, Minister of Home Affairs and Gender
3rd Annual Women’s Week 2016 and International Women’s Day Address
Sunday, March 6, 2016
Greetings to you all. I am delighted to open a week of exceptional events in honour of International Women’s Day on Tuesday, March 8 and Anguilla’s Women’s Week 2016 from March 6 through March 13. This is the 3rd annual Women's Week but my first serving in the capacity of Minister of Gender. I am excited to introduce the theme for this week: "Women in the Arts: Healing through Creative Expression.”
International Women's Day and Women’s Week is a time for us all to think about the remarkable impact that countless women have made in Anguilla and around the world. We have made strides in improving the life conditions of ourselves, our families and our nation - sometimes in the face of tremendous obstacles seeking to take us off track from fulfilling our purpose. Despite the challenges, we are transcending traditional gender roles and becoming entrepreneurs and government leaders. This week we specifically celebrate women who have made their mark in the Arts. Many are utilizing the arts as their creative outlet to help manage the day to day stressors.
Although there are many women on Anguilla who are talented, gracious and determined, this week we are highlighting 15 women and their unique art forms. Some represent the established leaders in the arts such as Dr. Linda Banks, Ms. Valerie Hodge and Ms. Irenee Edwards. Others, including Ms. Rebecca “Queen B” Webster and Ms. Amber Woodley are our present leaders in dance and song. And to the success of our future, we encourage young women such as Ms. Canita Ruan and Mrs. Twyla Richardson-Thomas in Art and Design.
Women’s Week 2016 is redefining what is considered art and assisting us all to learn the importance of creativity as a form of personal expression and healing. This years line up of events include a continued partnership with LIME Anguilla for a "Young Girls Chat” and "Story Hour" geared toward Primary School and High School Girls. Her Excellency, Governor Christina Scott, will also host a reception in honour of International Women's Day on March 8. The events continue with internationally-reknowned artist and tap dancer, Frances Bradley, who is candid about her experience with sexual violence and how art was her form of healing. She will host two tap dancing workshops at the Klassique Academy of Dance and a Multi-Media Exhibition of her portrait series and documentary titled “Womanhood or Woman’s-Hurt: The Art of Healing?” in partnership with the Ani Art Academy and Ani Villas. Women's Week 2016 will close with a powerful worship service at Dominion Faith Centre in The Valley.
As you tune into the interviews on Radio Anguilla, by guest host Dr. Phyllis Fleming-Banks, you will capture the essence of how art is an outlet and an important tool for women to be able to express their hearts and souls. As you listen to the 15 interviews airing this week, I encourage you to find your own voice and find your personal inspiration.
There are too many forces hindering women around the world. When these women speak, they speak for you, for me and for countless girls and women who have been silenced. Let me take a moment now to applaud the work of Gender Affairs in Anguilla and the numerous stakeholders who have assisted in furthering gender equality rights here in our nation. We have seen the passage of Anguilla’s first Domestic Violence Legislation, the pending extension of the Convention to Eliminate all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) to Anguilla and numerous impactful projects and programmes, such as the "AXA Break the Silence" campaign and ongoing dialogue continuing on the campaigns' Facebook page. I commend the vision and leadership of Dr. Ronya Foy Connor as Gender Development Coordinator and the support of persons in the Ministry of Home Affairs, various government departments, the private sector and especially our faith-based and community organizations.
In closing, remember that we are strong because we have historically used song, dance, poetry and other art forms to uplift us during moments of trial. Our forefathers and foremothers used storytelling and songs - the power of their voices - as sources of comfort and joy. Art is healing. It is beauty. But most of all, it is strength. Unique expressions of art are a part of Anguilla's culture and we must continue to develop the arts for our present and future generations. As noted by Dr. Ronya Foy Connor, "Art is a profound expression of past, present and future trials and triumphs. At its best, it's a creative outlet that charts a path from fear to freedom; a propelling force into fulfilling our deepest hopes and dreams." During Women’s Week, I recognize and support all women who have contributed to the arts. Happy Women’s Week 2016! Thank you.