Dame Nita Barrow (1916-1995)
Nita Barrow was an outspoken adversary of social justice. She went to South Africa as the lone female on a seven member team of Commonwealth dignitaries assigned to take a first-hand look at the system of apartheid. The group was sent to help reduce the rising levels of conflict in South Africa and initiate dialogue between the Botha government and leaders of the African majority. She was recommended for the group by the Prime Minister of Bahamas because of her leadership in the International Council for Adult Education, the World Council of Churches and the World YWCA.
Barrow's father was a Anglican priest who was removed from his pulpit in St. Croix when his ministry was deemed too progressive for the island's leaders. Her maternal uncle, Dr. Charles Duncan O'Neal, all sacrificed a successful medical practice to take up the cause of social justice. In 1924 he founded the Democratic League of Barbados that helped lead to the democratizing of Barbados. Her younger brother Errol was the first Prime Minister after leading the country to full independence in 1966.
She started her humanitarian career as a nurse, completing her basic training at the Barbados General Hospital and then training in midwifery in Port-of-Spain General Hospital in neighboring Trinidad. A graduate in nursing from Columbia University, New York, Dame Nita was also a Rockefeller Foundation Fellow, holding graduate degrees from the University of Toronto, Canada and the University of Edinburgh, Scotland.
She became Nursing Adviser for the Caribbean Area with the Pan American Health Organization in 1964. In 1975, Dame Nita became Director of the Christian Medical Commission of the World Council of Churches. She was considered one of the world's leading authorities on public health and health education, and published numerous papers on subjects related to those fields. As an ambassador to the United Nations she argued for more grass roots or ngo (non-governmental organizations) to play an active roll in international relations.
Dame Nita was president of the International Council of Adult Education (ICAE) from 1982 until 1990. In 1983 she was appointed Convenor of the Non Governmental Organization (NGO) Forum for the Decade of Women in Nairobi, Kenya. In 1980 she was invested with the Order of Dame of St. Andrew. On September of 1986 Dame Nita Barrow was appointed as Barbados's Permanent Representative to the United Nations.