Public relations officer with the National Organization of Women (NOW), Marsha Hinds, has been an educator most of her life.
And she believes education is just what this society needs to break down the stereotypes that have marred the relationships between men and women over the years.
“I acknowledge that we have made lots of progress in terms of the number of women holding high positions in the corporate world, politics and so on, but we still don’t have a culture that embraces and supports women,” she told Barbados TODAY. “Despite all the progress, we still have problems with our family structures, infidelity, single parenthood, rape, and the abuse women receive just walking down the road.”
Hinds, who is now pursuing her doctorate and teaches at the St Augustine Campus of the University of the West Indies, began her work life as a journalist.
She has worked with three Barbados-based media houses and taught at primary, secondary, tertiary and special needs schools. In recent years, she also got involved in politics and advocacy, but found it hard to maintain a balance between that, family life and her other responsibilities.
“So I decided to put the advocacy on a schedule and that has made life a lot easier,” she explained.
On the subject of how women are perceived in society, especially via popular culture, and particularly in music, Hinds said she “admired the work of (Jamaican dancehall artist) Lady Saw, as well as Singing Sandra’s Die with my Dignity, because they did a lot to empower women”.
“But, unfortunately, I am not seeing much of that today from our female singers.
“Another stigma we have is that when women challenge the stereotypes or speak out against the way men behave, they are often seen as lesbians. To my knowledge, most of these women still love men and are still very much heterosexual. I may hate rapists and misogynists, but I recognize not all men are like that, and I believe both sexes must be empowered to work together,” Hinds added.
She described the #MeToo movement, which has gathered considerable momentum over the last six months, as necessary at this time, since although women are now CEOs they still face the same sexist behaviour from company boards and other men in senior positions within their organizations.
“These movements are a direct challenge to the status quo, calling out men in high positions to be accountable for their actions and to get rid
of the belief that they can get any woman any time they want and get them to do anything they want them to do, and it is definitely something we need in the Caribbean,” Hinds said.
She agreed that Barbados should follow the route of other jurisdictions and introduce a sex offenders register, noting that contrary to popular belief, “statistics show only one per cent of sexual harassment claims can be considered false”.
“We must push for this register so we can have more accountability for people who hold major offices; to remove the veil to show what is really happening in society, and these movements are doing just that,” she insisted.
Hinds would also like to see older women reaching out to young females and for them to see each other as sisters, rather than rivals.
“Women must forge a better sisterhood, demand better wages and salaries so they don’t have to resort to transactional sex to make ends meet.”
Going forward, she said, “we must look at how we do relationships in Barbados.
“It is clear that the old methods, which were often exploitative, no longer work.
So, to this end, we want to see people have more emotionally based relationships, to demonstrate more emotional intelligence,” she said.
Hinds said that in that regard, NOW wants to partner with organizations like the Bureau of Gender Affairs and PAREDOS “to hold training courses that push these kinds of values so we can become a better society overall”.