Institute for Gender and Development Studies
(Regional Coordinating Unit)

Professor Verene A. Shepherd

2010 to 2017

 

Raised in the community of Hopwell in St Mary, before completing her certification as a trained teacher at the Shortwood Teachers' College in Kingston, Jamaica, Professor Shepherd attended Huffstead Basic School, Rosebank Primary School, and St. Mary High School. In 1972, she gained entry to the Mona campus of the University of the West Indies, where she completed a BA in history and a M.Phil. both in History in 1976 and 1982, respectively.

The award of a scholarship took her to the University of Cambridge to read for her PhD in History, which she completed in 1988. Her thesis, Pens and pen-keepers in a plantation society: aspects of Jamaican social and economic history, 1740–1845, examined the economic history of colonial Jamaica.

In 1989, after returning to Jamaica, Professor Shepherd joined the Department of History at the UWI, Mona as a Lecturer. She was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 1994; and ultimately to the rank of Professor in 2001.

In 2010, Professor Shepherd was appointed as the University Director of the Institute for Gender and Development Studies at the University of the West Indies, where she remained until 2017. A signal accomplishment during her tenure as University Director was her chairing the team, which would produce the Gender Policy of the University of the West Indies, launched in 2018.

She is currently the Director of The Centre for Reparation Research at The UWI.

A renowned and eminent expert in the field of 19th century immigration history in the Caribbean, Professor Shepherd has done xtensive and seminal research on the immigration of Asian Indians into the Caribbean and has been a leading authority in unearthing the voices of historically marginalised groups.

In her commitment to public service and activism to promote awareness to transform social and gender relations she has served on various boards, committees, commissions and steering committees:

Her work has also contributed to the international human rights and justice agenda at the United Nations, where - from 2010 to 2014 - Professor Shepherd was been a member of the United Nations Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent (WGEPAD), serving as the Working Group’s Chair from 2011-2014.

It was while serving as Chair of the WGEPAD that her contributions assisted in shaping the Programme for The International Year for People of African Descent; which ultimately led to the declaration of the United Nations’ Decade for People of African Descent.

In June 2015 Professor Shepherd made history as the first Jamaican and CARICOM citizen to ever be elected to serve on the CERD (Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination) in its nearly 50-year history; having received the highest number of votes of any candidate in the election process.

Her honours include the Order of Distinction, Commander Class from the Government of Jamaica (2013), the Jamaica Diaspora Initiative Distinguished Women of the Americas award (2015), the Africana Studies distinguished Award from Florida International University (2007) and the 9th Marcus Garvey (UNIA) award (2014). In 2013 Professor Shepherd was added to the Wall of Honour at the Liverpool Slavery Museum.

In 2017 Professor Shepherd received The University of the West Indies Vice Chancellor’s Award for her contribution to Public Service, for which a recipient is to have made an effective, significant and transformative contribution to public life at the local, regional and international levels; as has Professor Shepherd, through her tireless efforts towards achieving social justice locally in Jamaica, throughout the wider Caribbean and internationally