Gender Affairs Council for Bermuda Introduced

I Tinee Furbert Minister of Social Development and Seniors, am pleased to announce the members of the first ever Gender Affairs Council for Bermuda. Back in September 2022, I reinstated Bermuda’s non-statutory Women’s Council under the new name – Gender Affairs Council. Before I present the membership, I just want to give a brief backdrop on events leading up to
the establishment of this Council.


In 2010, the former Ministry of Culture and Social Rehabilitation established a Women’s Council to focus on women’s issues in Bermuda. In 2017, the work continued with the United Kingdom
extending its ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) to Bermuda.


CEDAW is an international bill of rights for women that defines what
constitutes discrimination against women and sets up an agenda for
national action to end gender discrimination. For Bermuda to remain
compliant with CEDAW, it must report on the legislative, judicial, administrative, and other measures adopted to implement the convention every 4 years, with the first deadline in 2023. This will be done through the Council.

Additionally, the United Nations supports the concept that the basic moral
and strategic imperative of a gender council is to ensure that all people,
regardless of gender, can realize their full potential. Therefore the Gender
Affairs Council will incorporate this philosophical shift so that individuals in
Bermuda’s community will reap the gender benefits that are universal,
inclusive and sustainable.


So with the re-instatement of the Council in September 2022, the Ministry
of Social Development and Seniors launched an Expression of Interest for
members of the public to submit applications to serve on the Gender Affairs Council. Despite not garnering many applications from males at thetime of the request, the Ministry received an overwhelmingly positive  response, with all applicants having extensive experience and knowledge.


To this I say thank you to every applicant who expressed interest in serving
on the Council. While I could not select all applicants, this process has
reassured me that the Gender Affairs Council alongside people in our
community, will continue to strive forward in addressing gender affairs.
The Gender Affairs Council comprises 10 members and represents a diverse
cross-section of our community who represent Government agencies; non-
profit and civil society organisations; and entrepreneurs. This afternoon, it
is indeed a pleasure to announce the members of the Council.


Standing here with me is: Mrs. Laurie Shiell – who will serve as Chairperson of the Gender Affairs Council. Mrs. Shiell is the Executive Director of the Centre Against Abuse.


Since 2008, Mrs. Shiell has provided leadership at the Centre ensuring the
provision of services to survivors of domestic abuse and sexual assault, and
establishing community awareness sessions on these topics.


Dr. Lucie Fremlova – who will serve as the Deputy Chairperson of the Council. Dr. Lucie holds a PhD in applied social sciences and has over 20 years of experience working in the field of human rights, gender and race
equality. She has published both academic and non-academic work and has experience reporting to the UN and other international bodies.


The remaining members of the Gender Affairs Council are:
• Senator Arianna Hodgson, the Junior Minister of Finance and Health.
• Mrs Tina Laws, the Owner and Founder of Under Konstruction. In her
role as communication specialist, Tina supports Corporate Leaders and
Team members as a Relationship Coach and Workplace Mediator. Mrs
Laws is the previous Executive Director of the Women’s Resource Centre.
• Ms. Emma Leitch, who has legal experience in public and international
affairs; and, an interest in education and sport.
• Ms. Whitnii Levon – a lawyer and who is legal counsel and privacy officer
with Chubb.
• Jessica Steede – a marketing and communications professional who has
a passion for social science.
• Mr. Calvin Stovell – an advocate for intersectional social justice, a
specialist in mental health services, and who works with the LGBTQ
• Ms. Tierrai (Tah-ray) Tull – a University student specializing in social
sciences, political science, and international relations with a personal
interest in gender research; and,  Acting Detective Sgt. Ashun Wolffe who has experience in community
policing, vulnerable person support and child safeguarding.


With the diversity of academic and professional backgrounds held by the
members, I believe the Council will collectively bring a depth of knowledge,
skills, and experience relevant to gender issues in Bermuda. The immediate mandate of the Gender Affairs Council is to develop a Terms of Reference, which will be the framework moving forward to guide the Council in carrying out their responsibilities. Therefore they will be holding weekly meetings until the end of March when the Terms of Reference will
be completed and presented.


Overall, the Council has the ultimate responsibility of identifying, and
advising on the social, educational, economic, and legislative factors to
advance best practice principles of gender equality and equity in Bermuda.

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