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Fiftieth Anniversary

LoGB Hon D. Kurt Tibbetts, JP

Public Celebration to Commemorate the Passage of Legislation Granting Women the Right to Vote and Hold Office in the Cayman Islands

Background to the Passage of the Law:

On December 8th fifty years ago, a law entitled the Sex Discrimination (Removal) Law was passed in the Legislative Assembly of Justices and Vestry (as it was then known) which granted women the right to vote and hold office in the Cayman Islands.

The passage of this law was the result of an initial thrust by 24 women from George Town who wrote to the then Commissioner declaring that it was their intention to exercise their constitutional right to vote in the election of that year. Despite their courageous stated intent, the law at that time excluded women from participating in the democratic process. Undaunted, these women continued their struggle for equal rights and in 1957 submitted a petition to the Legislative Assembly signed by 358 women.

As a result of their brave and extraordinary efforts, the Sex Discrimination (Removal) Law was passed in the Cayman Islands a year later.

Commemorative Ceremony:

Monday coming, (the 8th December) will be the 50th anniversary of the passage of this law, and to mark this momentous occasion, a commemorative ceremony will be held on the steps of the Legislative Assembly. Along with celebrating this important landmark in our history, women who have been elected members of the Cayman Islands Government, and those women who have been Speakers of the House will be honoured.

All are Invited:

The ceremony, which is open to the public, begins at 9am and is expected to last an hour. Though it is a Monday morning, I would like to encourage everyone who is able to, to come out and join us in honouring the spirit, determination and achievements of these - and indeed all women of the Cayman Islands.

As most of us well know, fifty years ago was a period in these Islands when most Caymanian men were off at sea earning a living for their families. At that time, the majority of women were left at home raising the children and making and selling the thatched rope which helped to keep our economy alive. The women who went on record demanding demand a voice in public affairs represented the backbone of society in the Cayman Islands of that time, and their efforts have gone a long way in laying the foundation for the prosperity these Islands enjoy today.

Road Closure:

To facilitate the preparations for this ceremony, Fort Street will be closed on either side of the LA (effectively from the Junction of Albert Panton Street to the Town Hall) from midnight to 1pm in the afternoon.

Motion by Minister McLaughlin:

Immediately following this ceremony when the members of the Legislative Assembly return to the House, Minister McLaughlin will move a motion on the significance of the passage of this legislation and what the actions of these 358 women has meant to this country. At that time, all members of the House will have an opportunity to speak on this historic occasion.

National Heroes Day:

Given that I am speaking on the subject of the women and the significant contribution they have made to nation building and the overall development of these Islands, I think it is appropriate that I take this opportunity to announce that our upcoming National Heroes Day celebration which takes place on 26th January, 2008 will be dedicated to honouring women and recognising the struggles, achievements and aspirations of all the women of the Cayman Islands.

Getting back to Monday's celebration, once again I invite everyone to join us on the steps of the Legislative Assembly at 9am and I look forward to seeing you all there.

For further information contact: Bina Mani