Minister of State for Social Development the Hon. Loretta Butler-Turner revealed the names of the three “unsung heroines” to be given special recognition during a luncheon as part of National Women’s Week.

The outstanding women are Millicent Smith; a veteran educator and owner of Cupid’s Nursery and Preschool, Elizabeth Grant; a training officer and reproductive health specialist and Graida Knowles; a Family Island Community Activist and mother of 14.

The luncheon will take place on Sunday, November 23 following a church service at the Church of God Cathedral, East Street that will officially launch the National Women’s Week of activities. The theme for the week is “The 21st Century Woman in a Developing Bahamas”.

Representatives from the Bureau of Women’s Affairs within the Ministry of Labour and Social Development, non-governmental women’s organisations and successful and accomplished women from throughout the country comprise the Women’s Week Planning Committee.

Minister Butler-Turner said, “The celebration of National Women’s Week is observed to recognise the anniversary of the enfranchisement of Bahamian women.

“This year commemorates the 46th anniversary of women voting in The Bahamas. This accomplishment not only allowed women to vote, but brought about a new sense of self-esteem and empowerment.”

She explained that the public would hear more from the Bureau of Women’s Affairs in regards to gender equality and women’s rights for the duration of the year.

Minister Butler-Turner said the Bureau’s plans coincide with the Government’s agenda.

“Just today (Monday),” she said, “we were debating in the House of Assembly the Domestic Violence and Sexual Offences Act, which gives more recognition to the victims of heinous crimes such as rape.”

Members of the Committee are visiting schools and will hold a workshop for women and girls to get young persons interested in and involved with gender and equality issues.

The workshop will be held Saturday, November 22 from 9:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Sheraton Cable Beach Resort.

There will be a number of presenters to discuss this year’s theme and other issues such as sexual harassment, how to survive hard economic times and the importance of physical health and mental wellness.

Minister Butler-Turner said, “When you start teaching our sons and daughters at an early age that they are equal participants in the game of life, then I think you will see further progress from that angle.”

Committee member Attorney Mavis Johnson-Collie said there is always an argument that women’s issues are being brought to the forefront, while men’s concerns are being neglected but she disagreed.

“Women have been in the back for so long and in a lot of cases we are still trying to keep up,” Mrs. Johnson-Collie said. “Although we are seeing women with top positions, the buck/the decision-making for the most part is still with the male.”

She explained that it is important for the roles of men and women to be clarified for a better society including a reduction in domestic violence.

During the week, committee members will be appearing on radio talk shows to discuss issues relating to this year’s theme and to bring more awareness to women’s issues.

There will be a panel discussion on the topic “The changing roles of men and women in a 21st century Bahamas”, which will be broadcast live on ZNS television on Wednesday, November 26.

The Minister will be attending a dinner celebrating National Women’s Week in Grand Bahama and will contribute to the discussion live via a special feed.