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Published 31st March 2017, 1:18pm

The public is invited to celebrate with the Ministry of Education, Employment and Gender Affairs at the premiere of Her Story is Our History: The Women’s Suffrage Movement in the Cayman Islands on 6 April 2017 at the Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort. This 22-minute documentary tells the story of the courageous women who signed petitions and demanded a voice and place in politics. As the 60th anniversary of the 1957 Petition approaches and with it being an election year in the Cayman Islands, the Ministry of Education, Employment and Gender Affairs (MEEGA) believed that this was an opportune time to release the documentary that is meant to educate and inspire generations to come.

Whirlybird Productions was selected by the Ministry to create the film, and the film is being produced in partnership with the Cayman Islands National Archive (CINA) which has been an invaluable source of information and images. The film reminds viewers of the journey these women embarked on in their struggle towards gender equality and hopefully it will encourage citizens to not take the right to vote for granted. The Ministry’s Gender Affairs Unit (GAU) also envisions that the film will not only become a historical record that tells the story of the women’s suffrage movement in the Cayman Islands, but that it will also be an educational tool in which to discuss issues such as gender discrimination, democracy and human rights.

The premiere will be an opportunity to look back with pride at the monumental achievement of these women and to celebrate how far this pioneering movement towards gender equality has taken us as a community. The Honourable Tara Rivers, Minister for MEEGA, who commissioned the film as a part of the strategic objectives set for the GAU, stated “I know I would certainly not be in this position, as a Minister in the Government, if had it not been for those brave women who came before me, who fought for the right to vote and equal participation in the political process, in recognition of their intrinsic human right to do so. That is why I extend a special invitation to those women who signed the petitions and their families to join us for the premiere. We hope the film will educate the public on Cayman’s unique suffrage movement and inspire citizens to take part in civic movements that affect positive change in the Cayman Islands.”

The evening’s programme will feature the film and some performance pieces and serves as an opportunity to connect with the petitioners and their families in appreciation of what they did. With the help of the National Archive, guests will able to view a display that features framed copies of the original signed petitions showing every woman’s signature. “In 1957, the historical records show that 358 women from different areas within Grand Cayman stood together on the foundations paved by the 1948 Petition to exercise the right to vote and hold public office. These courageous women had the foresight to ride the wave of constitutional change in the British West Indies, which has paved the way for many today. The historical collection held under National Archive’s custodianship, provides documentary evidence that captures a snapshot of the women’s suffrage movement, thereby demonstrating a democratic process of Government’s interactions with its people. These documentary sources allows us to gain a holistic understanding of our past, a sense of our present, and helps us to navigate our future”, commented J. Kimlon Lawrence, Director of the National Archive.

Tammy Ebanks, Acting Deputy Chief Officer and Senior Policy Officer for Gender Affairs, notes , “I trust that the film is able to preserve this key milestone in our history in the words of some of the surviving women who lived during that time of struggle towards gender equality. The willingness of those Caymanian women to individually and collectively take a chance and push the envelope further has made the road a little bit easier for those of us who came behind them, and for that we all should be grateful. Whether it is our ability to access higher education or obtain financial independence, the girls and women of today reap the benefits of the persevering spirit of the Caymanian women of yester year.”

The Ministry used national records to try to determine which of the signatories of the 1948 and 1957 petitions are still living in order to invite them to this event. Efforts were also made to invite representatives of the deceased petitioners, where this information was readily available. This event is free and open to the public, however a ticketing system is being utilised in order to account for seating. Persons will not be able to attend without a reserved ticket. Ticketing priority is being given to petition signatories and their representatives or families. For more information or to book your ticket by Tuesday 4th April, please visit www.genderequality.gov.ky or call 244-3226 or 244-3150.