The following are brief biographies of four pioneering Caribbean women.
Dame Nita Barrow
Dame Nita Barrow was Governor General of Barbados from 1990 to 1995. From 1944 to 1948, Dame Barrow studied nursing at the University of Toronto. She served as worldwide President of the YWCA, President of the World Council of Churches and Barbados’ Ambassador to the United Nations form 1986 to 1990. Dame Nita Barrow was also a member of the Board of Directors of the Global Fund for Women, a member of the Commonwealth Eminent Persons Mission to South Africa in 1986, and Convenor of the NGO Forum for Women at the United Nations World Congress on Women in Nairobi in 1985. Dame Nita Barrow was committed to the causes of equality, justice, peace and the empowerment of women.
Dame Eugenia Charles
Dame Eugenia Charles is the first woman to be elected Prime Minister in the Caribbean and the first female lawyer in Dominica. In 1970, she was appointed to the Legislature and in 1975 to the House of Assembly. In 1972, she co-founded the Dominica Freedom Party and became the Leader of the Opposition in 1975. She was elected Prime Minister in 1980 and serviced in this capacity for fifteen years. As Prime Minister, Dame Eugenia Charles was instrumental in the introduction of programmes aimed at economic reform. As Chairman of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) she supported the US led invasion of Grenada in 1983. She later served as Minister of Foreign Affairs, Finance, Economic Affairs and Defense.
Dame Hilda Bynoe
Dame Hilda Bynoe is the first female Governor in the British Commonwealth and the first native Governor of Grenada. She started her career as a teacher, before leaving for Europe to study medicine. She graduated from London University, Royal Free Hospital and subsequently the London School of Medicine for Women in 1951. For the next fifteen years she worked in medicine in Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago. In 1968, Dame Hilda Bynoe was appointed as Governor of the Associate States of Grenada, Carriacou and Petit Martinique. In 1974, she retired from duties of Office and returned to Trinidad to resume her medical practice and community service. She is also a writer and poet.
Ms. Heraldine Rock
Ms. Heraldine Rock pioneered the entry of women into St. Lucia politics and became the first woman elected to Parliament, first female Minister and first female vice-president of the United Worker’s Party. From 1974 to 1980 she served as Minister of Housing, Community Development, Local Government, and Social Affairs, Groups Needs, Cooperatives, the Provident Fund and Water. From 1964 to 1974 she was a member of the Castries Town Board. Ms. Heraldine Rock is a longstanding farmer.