On Friday, March 6, U.S. Chargé d’Affaires Lisa Johnson hosted a reception at Liberty Overlook in honor of Ms. Sheila Culmer, U.S. Embassy Nassau’s nominee for the 2015 U.S. Secretary of State’s Award for International Women of Courage (IWOC). Among the invited guests on hand for the event were Mrs. Anne Marie Davis, wife of Deputy Prime Minister Philip Davis, Minister of Labour and National Insurance The Hon. Shane Gibson and Member of Parliament for Long Island Loretta Butler-Turner.
The U.S. Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Award was established in 2007 and honors women around the globe who have exemplified exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for human rights, women’s equality, and social progress, often at great personal risk. U.S. Embassy Nassau has established a tradition of hosting an event in March in honor of both the local Woman of Courage nominee and Women’s History Month. Mrs. Culmer was nominated for the 2015 Secretary’s Award for International Women of Courage for her role in advocating for laws to protect disabled people. Her persistence and tenacity played an integral role in bringing legislation to Parliament, resulting in the July adoption of the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities) Act of 2014.
In her formal remarks, Chargé Johnson lauded Mrs. Culmer for being a nation builder who has given her life to assisting members of the disabled community and for her efforts to ensure full access and equality. “Her efforts have empowered the disabled to further their education, seek employment and become productive citizens of the society,” she said. The Chargé added, “Ms. Culmer’s work is an inspiration and encouragement to many, including the parents and caregivers who give tirelessly of themselves day in and day out to provide a safe and nurturing environment for disabled children and adults.”
In her response, Mrs. Culmer stated, “I am honored, privileged and humbled to have had the opportunity to be a voice for those who are often not heard or lost in the crowd: the disabled community.” She added, “I sincerely thank the United States Embassy for recognizing me for what I now know is my vocation and passion.”
Previous U.S. Embassy Nassau Woman of Courage honorees include Ms. Andrea Archer for her role in providing education for teenage mothers; The Honorable Janet Bostwick, recognized for her role in the women’s labor movement; Ms. A. Missouri Sherman-Peter for her exemplary career in the Bahamian Civil and Foreign Service; Dr. Sandra Dean Patterson, founder and director of The Crisis Center; and Mrs. Rosa Mae Bain for her work with HIV/AIDs research.