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Minister for Gender Affairs Hon. Tara Rivers (third from right) and Miss Cayman Islands Anika Conolly (centre) with five of the brave Caymanian women who signed the 1948 and 1957 petitions, (left to right) Mrs. Selma Eden, Mrs. Iva Johnson Good, Mrs. Janilee Clifford, Ms. Genevieve Henning and Mrs. Georgette Ebanks, at the premiere of the documentary “Her Story is Our History”.

Published 13th April 2017, 1:49pm

The Ministry of Education, Employment and Gender Affairs on 6 April 2017, hosted the premiere of Her Story is Our History: The Women’s Suffrage Movement in the Cayman Islands at the Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort. Based on the many positive reviews received from the large audience that attended, the event has been deemed a huge success.

The 22-minute documentary tells the story of the courageous women who signed petitions and demanded a voice and place in politics. Interviewees in the documentary included Mrs. Georgette Hurlston-Ebanks, signatory on the 1948 petition and Mrs. Janilee Clifford, signatory on the 1957 Petition. Women currently involved in politics or who are activists in the community were also interviewed; these included Hon. Juliana O’Connor- Connolly, Hon. Tara Rivers, Lucille Seymour, and Annie Multon. These ladies speak of what life was like back then, when women had little say in the running of the country, and how the Caymanian environment changed once women were given the human right to vote in elections and stand for public office. Aquinnah Ebanks, a young feminist and aspiring politician, was also interviewed to provide a youth perspective on these issues.

Five of the original signatories attended the premiere as well as many family members of these women and the others who also signed the petitions. Son of one of the 1957 signatories, Mr. Orrett Connor attended the event and spoke about the documentary at length on Radio Cayman’s show For the Record on Friday 7 April 2017. Mr. Connor stated that, he had the distinct privilege and opportunity to attend the event and watch the wonderful documentary that captured this important part of Cayman’s history. Mr. Connor enjoyed seeing the petitions on display with his mother’s signature and others that he recognised. He also appreciated the poster produced of the milestones achieved by Caymanian women from 1948 to 2016.

The display at the premiere was enlarged copies of every page of the petitions for guests to view. Separated by district, guests could see up close the signatures of the 24 women who signed the 1948 petition and the 358 women who signed the 1957 petition. This display was arranged by the Cayman Islands National Archive (CINA) and guests were amazed by the realistic looking copies and enjoyed identifying family members who signed the petitions.

“Seeing the signatures on the petitions and meeting some of the original signatories at the premiere of Her Story is Our History was so inspiring! It was a true honour to fellowship with these courageous women, to celebrate them and thank them for what they did for women’s rights in the Cayman Islands”, said Hon. Tara Rivers, Minister for Gender Affairs. “I am so pleased with how the documentary turned out, and I cannot thank the Gender Affairs Unit and the Cayman Islands National Archives enough for the work they put into this; and I sincerely thank Sean Bodden and his team from Whirlybird Productions who produced the video with such high quality and professionalism. This documentary has truly captured an important time in our people’s history and one which I want as many people as possible to see, so that they know and understand our history. I also hope that the documentary will encourage more people to get involved in promoting gender equality in the Cayman Islands and helping Cayman achieve it.”

To ensure widespread viewing, the Ministry of Gender Affairs will be hosting two additional viewings of the documentary in the districts as well as arranging for viewings in both high schools. The first will be held in West Bay on Saturday, 22 April 2017 in the Sir John A. Cumber Primary School Hall. The second will be for the Eastern Districts at the Clifton Hunter High School in the Performing Arts Auditorium on Saturday, 29 April. Both events will be from 6:30pm to 8:30pm. Members of the respective communities are invited to attend, as well as the wider public who were unable to attend the premiere. The Ministry would especially like to invite those women who signed the petitions and their family representatives. Guests are asked to please RSVP their attendance for these viewings by emailing genderequality@gov.ky.

Orders for DVDs of the documentary are also being received by the Gender Affairs Unit at a cost of CI$10.00. Order forms can be obtained by visiting www.genderequality.gov.ky.