OAS award for Dame Maizie Barker-Welch

Veteran Barbadian women’s advocate Dame Maizie Barker-Welch has been honoured by the Organisation of American States (OAS) and the InterAmerican Commission of Women (CIM) for her lasting contribution to the CIM.

Dame Maizie now age 94, was the principal delegate of Barbados to the CIM from 1986 to 1995; CIM vice-president from 1986 to 1988 and president from 1990 to 1992.

In making the award, the OAS made reference to the fact that, in addition to several other areas related to women’s rights,  it was during the Barbadian’s stint as president of the CIM from 1990 to 1992, that considerable advances were made in the drafting of the InterAmerican Convention to Prevent, Punish and Eradicate Violence against Women, the Convention of Belem do Para, eventually adopted in 1994, and in force from 1995. Over 30 countries are signatories to that Convention, including Barbados.

On the agenda of the Special Session of the Permanent Council of the Organisation of American States held on March 10 to celebrate International Women’s Day 2022, an item entitled “Honouring the Legacy of Dame, the Honourable Maizie Irene Barker-Welch” was at the top.

The overall theme of the Special Session was: “Best practices for Advancing Gender Equality and Preventing Sexual and Gender-Based violence in the Americas”.

Dame Maizie was conferred the privilege of addressing the Special Session of the Permanent Council of the OAS virtually, during this item.

It is a significant achievement by a woman from the English Speaking Caribbean, in an organisation of over 30 countries, including Caribbean countries, Spanish, Portuguese, French-speaking, Latin American countries and Canada

Established in 1928, the Inter-American Commission of Women was the first inter-governmental agency established to ensure recognition of women’s human rights. With 34 Delegates, one for each OAS member state, it has become the principal forum for debating and formulating policy on women’s rights and gender equality in the Americas.

 

As a staunch promoter and defender of women’s causes, Dame Maizie’s contribution in Barbados is extensive in women’s organisations such as the National Organisation of Women; as Barbados’ representative at the first UN Conference for Women on Population Development; as president of the Business and Professional Women’s Club of Barbados, and as regional coordinator for the English-speaking Caribbean, United States and Canada.

 

Dame Maizie also made her mark at the political level, as the Democratic Labour Party’s representative for the St Joseph Constituency. She was appointed Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Labour and Community Development and served in other ministries including the Ministry for Women’s Affairs, acting as minister on several occasions. She was a Senator from 1991-1994.

Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley joined a select group of women in commending Dame Maizie for the OAS achievement during an intimate reception hosted by President The Most Honourable Dame Sandra Mason on Friday. (GC)

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