About Dame Nita Barrow
Dame Nita Barrow, 1916-1995
Dame Nita Barrow was born in Barbados in 1916. She began her career as a nurse and was one of the first Caribbean women to earn a degree from the University of Toronto. She was the first President of the Jamaica Nurses Association; the first matron of the University College Hospital in Jamaica; the first World Health Organization appointed nurse for the Caribbean; and the first woman to head the Medical Commission of the World Council of Churches.
Barrow’s transformative work was carried out in many contexts: As the first majority world person to head an international women's organization, she changed the YWCA into an organization with a concern for socioeconomic development; as the first woman to head the International Council for Adult Education (ICAE), she introduced new visions of the role of adult education in participatory development; and as her country's ambassador to the UN, she strengthened that institution's links with NGOs.
She became Convener of the NGO Forum at the 3rd World Conference on Women held in Nairobi in 1985, and was later the only woman selected to be a member of the Commonwealth Group of Eminent Persons.
The Story of the Dame Nita Barrow Distinguished Visitorship
The Dame Nita Barrow Distinguished Scholar Visitorship was established in 1997 by the Centre for Women's Studies in Education and the Department of Adult Education and Counselling Psychology (AECP) at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE/UT) to provide an opportunity for a woman from the Global South or Eastern/Central Europe, who has played a leadership role in autonomous women's organizing for transformative change, to spend time in residence at CWSE, to teach a course as part of the Adult Education and Community Development graduate program, and to give a university-wide lecture. Visitors bring their international reputation and their diverse knowledge to educate and inspire the OISE and Toronto communities.
The previous Dame Nita Barrow Distinguished Visitor was Wahu Kaara, a long-time political activist and leader from Kenya and Nobel Peace Prize-nominee whose course and lecture, ‘Grassroots Women's Struggles and Global Social Justice: Life Histories of Kenyan Women Activists’, was extremely well received by students and the public.
The Dame Nita Barrow Distinguished Visitorship is generously funded by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). Read more about them at www.idrc.ca.