Ministry of Health & Social Development
Release Date:
Friday, 8 March 2019 - 3:39pm


8 MARCH, 2019


Permanent Secretary and staff of the Ministry of Health and Social Development

Head of the Office of Gender Affairs

Specially Invited Guests

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen

Good morning

It is a great honour for me to greet you in my first public remarks as Minister for Health and Social Development, on the occasion of International Women’s Day 2019.

Let me begin by wishing all the Women of the Virgin Islands a very Happy Women’s Day.

Today, as you have heard, we celebrate women who have played a significant role in advancing the drive for social justice and gender equality – as the birthright of women and girls everywhere.

The women of the Virgin Islands, from all walks of life, are taking action for a more balanced society as equal partners in business, parliament, community and family life.  For the first time in our history two women are serving concurrently as Junior Ministers of Government, offering a perspective that only women can bring to leadership, and inspiring young women and girls of our community to aim higher and dream bigger.

It is fair to say that progress for women has been incremental, as each generation builds on the achievements of those that have gone before.

At this crucial moment in our development as a people, it is essential for the women of this generation to break down barriers and lead with courage and ingenuity, with the vision to achieve the highest ideals for a better, stronger Virgin Islands.

History has shown women to be the bedrock of our society through their life and work, making a critical difference – whether in times of prosperity or adversity. This year’s theme is therefore very timely and fitting as we chart a new course for the Virgin Islands: Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change.

In the Virgin Islands, there is much to celebrate for girls and women in the area of innovation. Even in doing so, my thoughts go to all the women, worldwide, who on this day are still struggling to live safe and decent lives.

We celebrate today two formidable women leaders who recognized the need to give back to those in need of a helping hand.

Our awardees - Mrs. Marlene Penn-Trotman and the late Mrs. Phyllis Shirley - played an instrumental role in the formation of the Family Support Network; exemplifying compassionate leadership that will have a ripple effect for several generations.

You may agree with me that these and other women of our society have made some important strides, but the work is far from finished. Gender inequality is still an unfortunate reality.

And that is why all of us – women and men working hand in hand - need to keep striving towards a better day for women and girls. By your presence here today, I know we can count on all of you to be a part of this effort.

So thank you all for your commitment and your passion. I am honored and humbled to share in this occasion today.