Meet Marcia Brandon, Minister of Gender Equality

Meet Marcia Brandon, Minister of Gender Equality

1 -Dear Minister of Gender Equality, could you introduce yourself?
-My name is Dr. Marcia Brandon.  I was born in Kingston, Jamaica to a Jamaican mother and father on the 25th of December, 1965.  In June 1992, My husband’s job took him to Barbados and we have lived here since then.

After several years of volunteering and finding my feet, while raising two children with the support of my husband but also supporting my husband so he could comfortably do his job, I was offered the leadership role of a start-up non-traditional NGO helping young males and females (gender equality) to start their own businesses by lending them money and all other types of support necessary for them to grow their business sustainably.  I thoroughly enjoyed it and the rest as they say is history.  After 15 years at the helm, I led it to a best practice, a one of kind, sustainable entity and created the first female entrepreneurship programme in the Caribbean.  In 2011 along with 2
female colleagues, we created the Caribbean Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Livelihoods (COESL) working mainly with females of all ages, youth and males who seek the type of support we offer.  We help them to make their own sustainable livelihoods, while being attentive to
business and overall societal governance, policy, social justice and other relevant sustainable development issues, especially in keeping with the SDGs.

2 -What is your vision of Panafricanism?
-My vision of Panafricanism is to see all Africans thrive and live in comfort, respect and dignity.  To see all Africans working together, supporting each other, treating each other as superiors, fairly,
equitably and equally. I would like us to see each other as humans first and foremost.  I would like us to learn to love ourselves and then love each other just as much as we love ourselves. I would like to see black males and females grow and thrive and our children in turn.  I would love to see each African economically sustainable using what they have in their hands.  I would love to see parity for Pan-African women, the elevation of African women and people in general.

3 -Who is your favourite character in Pan-African history, and why?
-My favourite Pan-Africanist is Sir Marcus Mosiah Garvey. A man who envisaged economic independence and pride of place for his people and founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association, (UNIA) the single largest black organization ever. In the 1920s and 30s, the UNIA had an
estimated six million followers around the world.

4 -With the onset of technology and investment in Africa, how do you see Africa in the 21st Century?
-Africa is the mother of invention and inspiration.  Even without technology and investment, Africa has what it needs to make sustainable livelihoods for its people, if only we would push aside greed and silos.
There are many advantages to having technology and investment in Africa, but we need to ensure the people of Africa and Pan-Africa benefits.  If it is still business as usual, then no matter how much
technology and investment Africa gets, it will remain the same.  Our mission must be focused on helping all people to make their own sustainable livelihoods, helping the women to access all the resources they need to sustain themselves and their children and build their communities and helping Africans to change their mindsets to think as a village.  We need to reduce greed.  No one needs to be left behind because we have enough for all of us.

5-What initiatives and projects have manifested through your position within the State of the African Diaspora?
-I am presently working on recommending suitable persons from the Americas, especially women, to become a part of the State of African Diaspora.  Other initiatives and projects will be discussed on an
ongoing  basis, especially in keeping with the provision of the necessary financial resources to the Minister of Gender Affairs which will be needed to effectively implement sustainable projects and
initiatives, which will have a long term impact on the lives of women, their families and their communities.

6 -What are you planning to do in the future for the State of the African Diaspora?
-I am planning to work alongside the Prime Minister, our fellow Ministers and other stakeholders and partners to effectively promote gender equality in daily life.   The world is more and more aware of the need to fight gender inequality now.  With the onset of COVID-19, I am not sure what effects this will have on women and their abilities to live and work equally and equitably.  We know though that this will have some major effects on female SMEs, single mothers, divorced mothers, ill
mothers, women without health insurance and other social safety nets as well as the mentally ill women to name a few.  As we speak along with heading the Caribbean Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Livelihoods (COESL), I am also leading the Barbados Association for NGOs (BANGO) in
partnership with the National Organization of Women (NOW) here in helping vulnerable women with food and other necessities as we prepare for a few days in lock down to reduce the spread of this vicious virus.