Institute for Gender and Development Studies
(Regional Coordinating Unit)

The University Director's Message


“The Master’s tool will never dismantle the master’s house.” Audre Lorde

I am particularly delighted to welcome you to the Institute for Gender and Development Studies (IGDS) as we celebrate our quarter century milestone.

Over our twenty-five years of establishment, the IGDS has been the leading research institute in the Caribbean on issues of gender and development, equity, diversity and inclusion. From advocacy for adolescent rights to ending xenophobia and everything in between, the teaching, research and outreach work of the IGDS has assisted in generating knowledge towards an understanding of our Caribbean realities.

We have helped to direct regional policy towards social transformation; we have trained and developed a cadre of women and men who are well equipped to enhance sustainability, social equity and Gender Justice in the Caribbean and beyond.

Our current ideological approach focuses on RACE: Research, Activism, Community Engagement and Education, an integral component of which is the fight for Gender Justice. Gender justice is human justice, and it is the implementation of a system based on justice for all, so that both females and males can realize and develop to their fullest potential. This is a paradigm shift that acknowledges the imbalance of a system that has caused and continues to cause damage to women as well as men, whereas gender equality simplifies this complex issue to a mathematical equation and seeks to rectify numbers but still work within the same system. When we talk gender justice, we are inclusive and looking at all people and how to create modules that work for all, if not the greater majority

As relatively new nations in the Caribbean, development is central to our survival, and so we must be thoughtful about what we characterize as development. Surely development is not just high rise, multiple unit buildings, or new highways or large inclusive resorts -modeled after, and replete with all that is familiar to foreigners and suggest to them that there is no reason to venture beyond the confines of the walls.

Development is the economic and social transformation that improves life for the vast majority of the people, taking into account the complexities and nuances of their culture and their lived realities.

Implicit in the word development is diversity, and without diversity there can be no sustainable progress. As we work to expand and create growth we must be reflective and vigilant to ensure that gender, religion, sexual, age, class and other diversities that make for a rich and exciting society are at the forefront of all that we do.

With the recently launched UWI Gender Policy, the relevance of the work of the IGDS is illuminated. We are working to ensure that gender, religion, sexuality, age, class and other diversities that make for a rich and exciting society are at the forefront of all that we do.

The global economy is open for our input, and we at the IGDS are committed to our part to prepare our students to lead the way not just in human and environmental equity, which includes affordable housing and most fundamental, job creation, but also, to be leaders in technology –solar power, water storage and other renewable energy technological forms. Our work engages all facets of development, and we must be rigorous and interrogative in our approach, while being culturally relevant. IDGS strives to be cutting edge and remain vigilant to gender and other injustices, as well as, to be at the forefront of creating systems that support gender justice for all, which will ultimately feed our development.

I urge you to get involved in the projects of the IGDS so that together, we can work towards sustainable development and Gender Justice.


Opal Palmer Adisa, Ph.D.

Professor and University Director