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The University of the West Indies

at Cave Hill, Barbados

The Nita Barrow Unit

The Nita Barrow Unit (IGDS: NBU) is named after Barbados’s first female Governor General. It is staffed by highly-trained academics and professionals whose research and teaching experience span the fields of political science, sociology, law, administration, history, feminisms, gender and masculinity studies. The Unit offers several undergraduate courses and a minor in Gender and Development Studies. Postgraduate students can pursue an MPhil, MSc. and PhD in Gender and Development Studies.
Remembering the late Dame Ruth Nita Barrow (November 15, 1916 - December 19, 1995)
The late Dame Ruth Nita Barrow was a distinguished daughter of Barbados and the Caribbean. Her tireless work in healthcare, humanitarianism and women’s rights has made an indelible mark on history’s page.
The second of five children, a young Dame Nita pursued a career in nursing. She undertook further training at the School of Nursing of Toronto University, and the Royal College of Nursing of Edinburgh University. Her drive and passion for excellence led to nursing and public health appointments both regionally and internationally, namely the post of West Indian Matron of the University College Hospital in 1954 and the Principal Nursing Officer of Jamaica, as well as the Nursing Adviser to the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO).
The Dame championed causes for quality access to healthcare and women’s rights at the diplomatic level as well, serving as Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Barbados to the UN and the Convenor of the conference marking the end of the UN Decade for Women in 1985. One year later, she visited South Africa as part of an eminent persons group set up by the Commonwealth created to investigate apartheid.
In 1990, she answered the call of Barbadiams to become Governor General of Barbados. She was the first and only woman to do so, serving with pride until her death in 1995. Dame Nita’s lifelong leadership and humanitarianism has been honoured in several ways, most notably the Dame of St. Andrew and Dame Grand Cross of the Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George. 


" Feminists must position themselves within a space that questions the compulsory heterosexuality promoted by Church and nation-state, which undermines economic and social gains women have made. We must question the extent to which gains that women have made exist within a heterosexist matrix in which women's sexed bodies are used and reused. Finally, we must ask whether the fight should be for equality between genders, or for a destruction of sexual and gender categories all together. The women's movement in the Caribbean must question whether or not the rights they hold so dear, are rights that actually maintain and reinforce colonial constructions of woman and man."
When the Closet is a Region- Homophobia, Heterosexism and Nationalism in the Caribbean, Tara Atluri

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Institute for Gender and Development Studies: Nita Barrow Unit
Telephone: (246) 417-4490-93 Fax: (246) 424-3822 Email: