Department of Gender and Family Affairs Established

The Bureau of Women’s Affairs has been expanded into a Department of Gender and Family Affairs in order to ensure a more comprehensive, participatory approach to tackling the country’s social challenges while creating programmes to address education, training, employment and social justice for both men and women.

Minister of Social Services and Community Development, the Hon. Melanie Sharon Griffin, said the Department will also “be tasked to coordinate, advocate and inform policy for, and on behalf of, women and girls and men and boys, as well as the family unit.”

“The importance of the active engagement of every woman, man, boy and girl cannot be underestimated as we collectively heal and grow this nation,” Mrs. Griffin said in a press conference at the Ministry, November 14, 2016. “This approach is consistent with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals which emphasize the critical role of inclusion and partnerships in the development process.

“While these goals are framed in a global context emphasizing relations between and among States, they also reflect the importance of stronger partnerships at the national level. (This) sense of shared responsibility is crucial to the integrated, socio-economic development in The Bahamas,” Mrs. Griffin added.

Mrs. Griffin said the Government of The Bahamas is committed to doing everything that will help to build and strengthen family life in The Bahamas.

“And so this (the creation of the Department of Gender and Family Affairs) coming to fruition for us is very important as a country and very important to the development of the family in our country,” Mrs. Griffin said. “As time progresses we will see the evolution of various programmes that will positively impact the family and the development of our women, men, children and families.”

Minister Griffin said the Department will expand the scope of the work previously carried out by the Bureau of Women’s Affairs.

“Additionally, the Department aims to strengthen the family as the fundamental nucleus of society. Strong families are built on sustained support systems, vibrant and healthy relationships, respectful community engagement and outreach and solid, spiritual grounding.

“When our families are strong, the foundation of our nation is strong. When our communities are strong, the foundation of our nation is strong. This new Department will be working diligently to promote these values,” Mrs. Griffin added.

The Department will be headed by Miss Gaynel Curry, a Bahamian who has served as the Gender and Women’s Rights Advisor and Acting Chief of Global issues for the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in New York, United States of America.

Miss Curry worked 18 years for the United Nations and facilitated the development and implementation of international standards with the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) and the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), two major United Nations initiatives.

Additionally, she has served in several capacities promoting human rights, gender equality and the elimination of violence against women in the United Nations offices in Geneva, Afghanistan, South Sudan and East Timor.

Minister Griffin said Miss Curry’s “vast experience” in working in the aforementioned capacities at the United Nations, makes her the perfect choice to navigate the Department and indeed the country, through the many UN Conventions and processes as she has first-hand knowledge of them.

“Miss Curry comes with a wealth of knowledge and experience from her work with the United Nations and I think (having her on board) will bring a strong sense of how The Bahamas fits in with the rest of the world when it comes to dealing with women’s, men’s and family issues and the various conventions we would have signed onto. She knows the system and she will know how to guide the Department as to what needs to be done to help us meet our commitments as well as to educate our people and so I think this is a very, very important step for us.

“Many times we overlook our own people who are overseas and their talents,” Mrs. Griffin continued, “ I think it was a blessing for us to be able to get her.”

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