Today, March 8, is International Women’s Day (IWD). The administration, faculty and staff of the University of the Southern Caribbean wholeheartedly embrace this opportunity to celebrate the being and contributions of our women-folk to our families, workplaces, schools, churches, villages, nations, and the innumerable other physical and relational spaces where humans practice community.
The accepted origins of the celebration of IWD goes back to 1909 when at the suggestion of the Ukrainian-American labour-activist, writer and suffragette Theresa Serber Malkiel the Socialist Party of America – yes socialist and yes United States of America – observed what they called a “National Woman’s Day on the last day of the month of February that year, a Sunday. New York City was the epicenter of that antecedent observance. It was an election year, and as pervasive and bi-partisan as ‘progressivism’ had become to mainstream American politics, women’s rights, worker’s rights and that of minorities remained subordinate to affluent white patriarchy, leaving many in the US undone, disappointed and disenfranchised.
The historically busy Atlantic Ocean would transplant the idea to the European continent and on March 19, 1911 International Women’s Day – so named – was observed for the first time by more than a million people in several European countries. Like in the USA – where there continued for quite some time to be the celebration of National Women’s Day on the last Sunday in February – in Europe, too, the focus of the observances centered around protests against the political disenfranchisement of adult women, gender discrimination in the workplace and the inequality of opportunities to prosper.
Unsurprisingly, with the triumph of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia in 1917, IWD was accorded the status of a public holiday in that country. This pattern would accompany the national adoption of socialist-communist ideology in various other countries in Eurasia as the Soviets expanded their sphere of influence.
In the late 1960s and into the 1970s and 1980s with the rise of what is sometimes referred to as the second wave of feminism, when equal pay, the push back against violence against women, maternity benefits, sexual and reproductive rights and other such contemporary rights-issues for women and girls were being intellectually developed into their existing form, IWD was wrested from the social communist world and globalized. It was during this period that it was belatedly adopted by the United Nations in 1975.
For us in the Caribbean, grappling as we still are with emancipation and postcoloniality, living with our hard-wired histories that include conquest, enslavement, indentureship and the ruthless exploitations of our land and our labour by foreign capital interests, our appreciation of IWD must not be permitted to come from the artificial place of an adopted narrative of a comparatively recent exposure to abuses and troubles. It seems that our people, our women are, and will be, because they never surrendered and habitually and courageously “#choose to challenge”.
On Thursday November 12, 2020, at 2:30pm, the University of the Southern Caribbean Economics Department fielded a team of debaters in the annual COTE Tertiary Debating Competition.
The theme: Be it resolved that International Financial Institutions are crucial for mitigating the impact of the Corona Virus pandemic in the Caribbean.
The USC Debating Team was comprised as follows:
- 1st Speaker for the Proposition – Gershom Byng
- 2nd Speaker for the Proposition – Mickael Walters
- Team Researcher – Velvet Benicourt
We looked forward with great anticipation to maintaining the Championship Trophy but alas our opponents, UWI Roytec edged us out in the finals. We congratulate them on their success! Though securing the 2nd place, the USC team is confident that at the very earliest opportunity, they can reclaim the trophy at the next debate.
Dr. Stephen Pilgrim, recently appointed Professor of Economics, was the lead coach for the team and he was ably supported by the Chair of Department – Esther Cedeno as well as, the Acting Dean of the School of Business & Entrepreneurship, Sherri-Lyn Legall. We also acknowledge the sterling contribution of Duane Winchester, an adjunct Economics Lecturer in the School of Business & Entrepreneurship. We also express thanks to Mr. Dwight Francis and team, as well as several others for their invaluable support in preparation for the day of the Debate.
The spirit of togetherness and positivity was very real among the team members, and among the Economics students as a whole, who regularly attended debate practice sessions, along with the teachers indicated above. The determination of the Economics debaters, augers well for the future of the Economics Academic Program at USC. It is the hope that this form of intellectual curiosity and rigor would characterize a desirable style of learning throughout USC, going forward. Further, we hope to strengthen the pursuit of scholarly research and raise awareness and enthusiasm among students and faculty alike.
We salute our team!