Institute for Gender and Development Studies
(Regional Coordinating Office)

Message from the University Director

"When I dare to be powerful—to use my strength in the service of my vision—then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.”  Audre Lorde

“The classroom, with all its limitations, remains a location of possibility. In that field of possibility, we have the opportunity to labor for freedom, to demand of ourselves and our comrades, an openness of mind and heart that allows us to face reality even as we collectively imagine ways to move beyond boundaries, to transgress. This is education as the practice of freedom.” bell hooks

 

It is with great pleasure that I welcome you to the Institute for Gender and Development Studies—30-years old in 2023. Instituted at The UWI on September 1, 1993, as the Centre for Gender and Development Studies, born from the visionary efforts of Caribbean feminist scholar-activists, the IGDS leads the region in gender-based research and development. Deeply informed by, and an integral component of social movements for intersectional equity across gender, sexuality, race, class, ability, and other identities, the Institute works tirelessly to demonstrate the connections among scholarship, activism, teaching, and policy initiatives. Our students come to regard the classroom, as bell hooks observes in the above quote, as a space to challenge oppressive norms around narrowly and ideologically conceived notions of gender, biological sex, and sexuality, as they probe the possibilities for realizing liberatory societies of the Caribbean and beyond. This is a process of empowerment that begins with the conscientization of the self, to mobilize and inspire the transformational work that is critical to achieving gender justice. Our students graduate to become leaders in society, bringing with them the perspectives and the tools they have acquired in the classroom and beyond from hands-on research and grassroots projects.

The IGDS continues to be instrumental in shaping policy initiatives that address the challenges of our time—climate crisis, biodiversity loss, and wealth inequities that are inextricably intertwined with gendered, racialized, extractive capitalism—and those that persist across the ages including gender-based violence, sexual harassment, and the structural inequities exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

We enthusiastically embrace the One UWI and its strategic plan, harmonizing our IGDS units on the St. Augustine, Cave Hill, and Mona campuses through the Regional Coordinating Office (RCO), collectively labouring together in our advocacy, consultations, training workshops, and online teaching. Championed by the Vice Chancellor, Sir Hilary Beckles, and working in tandem with the Gender Mainstreaming Committee, we have crafted The UWI Gender Policy that will be implemented across the campuses.  Through the support of the University Registrar, the campus Principals and campus faculties, we recognize that we must do the work in our own backyards. We have an exciting time ahead, and we embrace the challenges and rewards that come with it, as we seek to ensure that gender justice is an intrinsic part of the strategies, design, and application of all that we do, knowing that successful Caribbean futures depend on gender-just futures.

Diana J. Fox

University Director, IGDS-RCO