Women of inspiration

For the past five years, Lynette McInnis has been organizing an event in Grand Bahama called Join Me on the Bridge, which falls on International Women’s Day each year. The event successfully brings together women and men from different backgrounds, countries, and political parties (things that tend to divide us) for a common, unifying goal: to join together to celebrate women’s achievements and show support for their issues. 

The aim is that the event isn’t something that lasts just a single day, but is a catalyst for positive change. Lynette’s hope has always been that the event will be the spark - the conversation starter - that encourages people to discuss the issues, learn and educate, come together and move forward to help make the positive change and advancement we strive for happen. The overall mission is peace, hope and equality for all. The event has grown from its humble beginnings on the Casuarina Bridge with only seven attendees in its first year in 2010 to over 120 this year.

One of the women to join Lynette on the bridge this year was Senator Tanisha Tynes. Tanisha was the keynote speaker at the event and as I sat in the audience and thought about the work Lynette put into this event and listened to the words that Tanisha spoke, I was so proud to be a woman and wanted to learn more about both of them.

Lynette and Tanisha have interesting stories that have brought them to this point in their lives where they can be a motivation to fellow women. Lynette has traveled all over the world  including an independent motorcycle expedition from London to Cape Town (1990-1991). The year-long adventure covered two continents, 24 countries, and more than 20,000 miles and she immersed herself in the extreme issues that women in Africa face. Her work for women’s rights continued.

Tanisha plays an instrumental role in motivating girls and women in Grand Bahama. Her contributions to the community are remarkable. Tanisha is currently the Vice President for Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. Through this dedicated women’s service organization, Tanisha acts as an advisor and mentor for the ‘Twenty Pearls’ program, mentoring high school girls and the ‘Emerging Young Leaders’ initiative which develops leadership skills and community mindedness in girls in grades 6-8. Along with her sorority sisters, Tanisha also takes part in food drives, beach clean-ups and literacy programs. She has participated in the Keep Grand Bahama Clean project and contributed to AKA Inc.’s purchase and donation of a ‘Reef Ball’ to protect the island’s coastline.

As an attorney, Tanisha is a member of the International Federation of Women Lawyers (F.I.D.A.).  F.I.D.A. is concerned with protecting and promoting the rights of women and children domestically and internationally. Tanisha assisted with organizing the joint-hosting with AKA, Inc. and F.I.D.A., the first screening in Grand Bahama of the documentary ‘Womanish Ways’ on  the Women’s Suffrage Movement in The Bahamas.

Lynette and Tanisha share the same optimism that the hopes, aspirations, and feelings of empowerment for women go far beyond National Women’s Month and continues year-round.  Tanisha’s thoughts on National Women’s Month can be the motivation that we all need to achieve this.

“National Women’s Month is a wonderful opportunity for all members of our community to reflect on and celebrate the myriad contributions of women to Bahamian society and to our country as a whole,” said Tanisha.  “We celebrate the women of our past who have fought for the rights and freedoms we did not always have but presently enjoy.  We celebrate the women of today who continue the struggle in the face of an ever-present prejudice that seeks to place a ceiling on their lives. 

During this month we tend to highlight the achievements of women who have dared to dream, to strive and to succeed on a national level in spheres traditionally dominated by men.  But while it is important to recognize the achievements of those women who have succeeded as public figures, we must not stop there.  

“As a people we must learn to revere the women in our everyday lives whose sacrifices, made outside of the limelight, are often taken for granted.  We must recognize and celebrate the unselfish gifts of women in our community in their roles as child bearer, caretaker, educator, healer, counselor, companion, friend, provider... the list goes on.   

And if through our reflections and celebrations during National Women’s Month we can develop an ongoing appreciation for our women, we might make some small steps towards reducing the incidences of domestic violence and other forms of criminal violence and abuse against our women. Women are to be celebrated,” Tanisha concluded. 

At the beginning of March, my goal was to recognize outstanding women in our community and to bring attention and praise to all women in Grand Bahama. It has been an inspirational venture. There are countless, amazing women in our community who are making a positive difference in our country and our world. My wish is that all those who have read these stories will continue to celebrate and support women.  Happy National Women’s Month.

Published Saturday, March 29, 2014

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