April 23, 2012

Advocating for Women’s Rights in the Bahamas

Christine Campbell of The Bahamas was selected as the U.S. Department of State’s Alumni Member of the Month for April 2012 in recognition of her advocacy and support of women’s issues as well as her efforts in youth education and empowerment. Campbell participated twice in the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP)–first in 1987 on the topic of drug abuse prevention and education and again in 2001 on the topic of HIV/AIDS prevention and education. Campbell notes one of the key concepts she learned from her exchange programs was the value of networking and the exchange of ideas; adding “I believe education and knowledge can shape and transform lives and when individuals share their knowledge and experiences with others, it not only improves their own lives but also their communities.” She has continued to use these concepts in the organization of impactful youth programs and women’s workshops and seminars. She currently serves as the government of The Bahamas’ First Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Women’s Affairs in the  Ministry of Social Services and Community Development.

Throughout her career, Campbell has been a leading force in The Bahamas in the prevention of drug abuse, teen pregnancy, and HIV/AIDS. After returning from her first IVLP experience, Campbell initiated and conducted a peer leadership after school program with a focus on helping teens resist negative peer pressure by raising students’ self- esteem and encouraging strong decision making skills. After her second exchange, she developed a short video called “Keep the Promise” to educate primary school students, high school students, and adults about the growing threat of HIV/AIDS. She has served as mentor to hundreds of Bahamian youth using her knowledge to positively impact their lives.

In her capacity as the government of The Bahamas’ First Assistant Secretary in the Ministry of Social Services and Community Development and Officer in Charge of the Bureau of Women’s Affairs, Campbell is responsible for coordinating programs that educate and inform the public of issues impacting women throughout The Bahamas. In this role, she has brought a renewed public focus to the issues impacting women and is considered one of The Bahamas’ top women’s rights advocates. She is actively working to educate Bahamian women about the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Violence Against Women and spearheaded the effort to draft The Bahamas’ National Gender Equality Policy. In 2011, Campbell coordinated a panel discussion celebrating the 100th Anniversary of International Women’s Day, which was attended by more than 450 community leaders and students. She also spearheaded the commemoration of the 30th Anniversary of the Bureau of Women’s Affairs, which brought together more than 300 of The Bahamas’ top female leaders representing government, business, education, the arts, and civil society.

Campbell collaborates closely with her fellow exchange alumni counterparts when developing workshops and other outreach activities in her official capacity. Examples of these projects include domestic violence seminars and a campaign to encourage hundreds of public and private high school students to adopt healthy lifestyles.

This recognition of Campbell’s efforts comes at a time when injustices against Bahamian women have escalated. Although reliable statistics on domestic violence are not available, advocacy groups confirm it as a major problem affecting all Bahamian classes and a United Nations report ranks The Bahamas among the top nations in the world in domestic violence fatalities.Campbell’s work as Officer in Charge at the Bureau of Women’s Affairs is vital to combating this issue and improving the status of women in The Bahamas.