Barbara Bailey is committed to gender issues

Monday, October 18, 2010

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As we continue to celebrate the Inter-American Year of Women, the Bureau of Women's Affairs places the spotlight on educator Professor Barbara Bailey.

PROFESSOR Barbara Bailey is a deeply religious, passionate individual with an unrivalled commitment not only to gender issues, education and development, but to family as well. A gender expert, she loves to interface with others while teaching and learning from each interaction. A self-confident person, she is meticulous in planning and preparation.

Bailey was the proud recipient of the ninth prestigious Caricom Triennial Award for Women in 2008 for her dedication and determination in broadening the parameters of existence for women and improving their economic, social, political, cultural and legal status. She headed the 2006 Government of Jamaica delegation to the 36th Session of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) to present and defend Jamaica's Fifth Periodic Report at the United Nations and also represented Jamaica on various occasions on international commissions dealing with the status of women. Subsequently, in 2008, she was elected as Jamaica's representative to the UN Committee to CEDAW.

She identified St Andrew High School for Girls as the catalyst for her ethic for hard work, a sense of pride and a drive to always do her best. A graduate of the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, she has earned several degrees including a Baccalaureate degree in the sciences, Masters and PhD in education.

Gender involvement

Bailey has engaged in distinguished original research which has filled an important niche in regional gender and education literature that has had significant implications for public educational policy. As an academic, her work in gender and education has made a distinctive contribution to educational practice and curriculum development, especially in relation to gender.

Bailey explained that her involvement in women and gender studies was not deliberate. It began when she was invited, by default, as the wife of a reverend, to head the National Executive of Methodist Women in Jamaica. She was also a founding member of the Women in the Methodist Church in the Caribbean and the Americas and served as president for five years. This is an umbrella group to unite Methodist women within eight geographical regions and across four languages.

Besides the emphasis of strong Christian values, the group focused on outreach activities that affected the lives of the vulnerable. Through these activities, Bailey gained an appreciation and interest in the women's movement and efforts to promote women's empowerment. This influenced her involvement in the introduction of courses in women's studies and the subsequent establishment of the Centre for Gender and Development Studies, now Institute for Gender & Development Studies at UWI. She served as regional co-ordinator and was later appointed as director of the organisation for 14 years until her recent retirement from the institute.

With a background in education, her work focused on the gender differentials in the education process and she has become one of the leading authorities in this area. Since 1985, Bailey has represented Jamaica and participated in several sub-regional, regional and international meetings on women.

At the national level, Bailey has served as chair of the National Gender Advisory Committee for the Government of Jamaica to assist in developing a strategic and comprehensive gender policy geared towards achieving gender equality and social justice. She was also co-chair of the Jamaica National Preparatory Commission which prepared the national report on the status of women in Jamaica for the Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing, China.

Bailey actively urges youngsters to consider pursuing the gender field for career goals. She cautions, however, that they should not enter this field expecting immediate gratification as one of the aims of gender studies is to break down longstanding, persistent beliefs in order to create a better society.

Over time, Bailey's extensive and ongoing contribution to gender, education and development has provided valuable insights and significant understanding of the complexity of gender, human resource development and the importance of equal opportunity afforded through education. She continues to contribute significantly to development at the national, regional and international levels.

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