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Caribbean feminist activism 'in good hands'

For Release Upon Receipt - Thursday, May 30, 2019

IMG-20190529-WA0012 (1)-5-30-2019.jpgCaribbean feminist activism is in good hands.

According to feminist scholar and Pro Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, Professor Eudine Barriteau, local and regional activists are harnessing the power of social media to shake “the status quo” and “drag women’s activism fully into the 21st century.”

She made the comments while delivering the third Devaki Jain Lecture at St. Anne’s College, Oxford University. The presentation was titled: “Coming into Our Own? Women and Power in the Caribbean” and focused on contemporary women-led activism in the Caribbean.

Barriteau noted that current movements were united by two central tenets: they relied heavily on cyberfeminist strategies and emphasised sexual sovereignty and autonomy.

“These women are highly mobile as they harness information and digital technologies to operate simultaneously in virtual sites and physical locations. They are skilled [social] media campaigners whose feminist commitment is unwavering, admirable and augurs well for the future of our region. They have shifted the paradigms around feminist organising and demanding respect from Caribbean states and individuals for women’s bodily and existential integrity,” she said.

At the same time, Barriteau, who is also the founding head of the then Centre for Gender and Development Studies at Cave Hill (now the Institute for Gender and Development Studies: Nita Barrow Unit) called for support for these movements.

“There is still an ephemeral quality to this resurgence of women’s activism [and] now more than ever we need solidarity and we need to protect them.”

The Cave Hill Principal charged current feminist and women’s activists to combine their work on sexual sovereignty with pushing for economic autonomy, adding: “I want to see a wider, fuller approach to activism, as practised by Red Thread [in Guyana], become part of the focus of the newer groups without losing the richness, vitality and sheer necessity of what they currently do. . . We [can] challenge our exploitative development paths in the region when we merge tackling economic inequalities with promoting sexual sovereignty.”

PHOTO: attendees chat with Professor Barriteau (right) at the lecture


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