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Remarks by CARICOM Secretary-General Dr. Carla Barnett to the Pioneering Caribbean Women Jurists Awards Ceremony, 8 March 2022

  • Her Excellency Paula-Mae Weekes, President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago;
  • Honourable Mia Amor Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados;
  • Honourable Mr. Justice Adrian Saunders, President of Caribbean Court of Justice;
  • Honourable Mr. Justice Winston Anderson, Chairman of the Pioneering Caribbean Women Jurists Project and Judge of the Caribbean Court of Justice;
  • Other Honourable Justices of the Caribbean Court of Justice;
  • Sir Hilary Beckles, Vice-Chancellor, University of the West Indies;
  • Distinguished Pioneers; and
  • Ladies and Gentlemen.

The recognition of those who have contributed to the development of the Caribbean ethos in any field is always an occasion for celebration.

It is even more praiseworthy when that appreciation is accorded to those who have had to struggle against the status quo and entrenched views, as well as discrimination. That is why it is indeed a pleasure for me to be associated with the Launch of this publication and was so honoured to be invited to contribute the Foreword. It is timely that today’s Launch coincides with the celebration of International Women’s Day.

This second volume in the Eminent Caribbean Jurist Series focuses on women jurists who, through their life’s work, have made exemplary contributions to Caribbean society.  It recognises and celebrates the contribution of Caribbean women judges and other legal practitioners, and offers examples for young lawyers to emulate and aspire to supersede.  There can be no better examples for our young female lawyers to follow than this pantheon of pioneers.

In these critical times in our Region, it is good to tell the stories of those who came before.  It is good to inspire young people to step forward and take the risks that often come with working to make positive change in our Region, and in our world. The can-do philosophy and the attendant drive to succeed are the bedrock which propelled these icons to scale summits once thought unattainable.

These are Caribbean women of whom we are all justly proud. Some of these women became lawyers at a time when it was still unusual – indeed sometimes worthy of a newspaper headline – that a WOMAN had actually entered the legal profession. By showcasing these exemplary women jurists, including the Region’s first female Prime Minister and first female Chief Justice, this book makes their history accessible and encourages young women, in particular, to empower themselves to excel.

We must thank the Caribbean Court of Justice Academy for Law, for its efforts to create a foundation for recognising the work of individuals who make strong contributions to the development of the Caribbean society and people, through their accomplishments in the legal field.  Through publishing these volumes in written and in digital format, the Academy is making Caribbean legal history readily available, relevant and interesting. It is upholding its objective of providing a platform for discussing the rules and roles of law, particularly international law. It enhances the Caribbean Community’s reputation as a bastion of the rule of law.

As the educational arm of the Caribbean Court of Justice, the Academy for Law, has done exceedingly well in selecting these thirty-four women from across the Caribbean who are honoured in this book.  In addition to being eminent jurists, these are women who are or were also Heads of State or Government, Law Professors, Corporate Lawyers, Judges, Diplomats and more.

I commend Mr. Justice Anderson and his team, and look forward to their next project.

I thank you!

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