Queen Mother Dr Delois Blakely

But, it is her passion for standing up for women’s rights and violence against women that has kept this Trinidad-born globetrotter lending her voice to those women who had none. Blakely recently visited Trinidad to help launch a home for battered women which was established by another Trinidadian, Nicole Hernandez, who also resides in the US.

Blakely told Newsday, “My trip to Trinidad and Tobago has been three-fold for me as a woman and as an elder representing 55 million African descendants, displaced Africans in the US in the spirit of a woman by the name Queen Mother Audley Moore. She lived to be almost 100 years old. She was a Garveyite because she upheld the beliefs of the Jamaican leader, and I carry her legacy.

“She received her title from the late king of the Ashanti Kingdom in Ghana, West Africa. I had the honour of meeting the new king who sits on the throne today. It was the king who decreed me Queen Mother of Goree Island, Senegal,” Blakeley said.

It was a bittersweet visit to her homeland for Blakely as the day of the launch of was the day former president and prime minister Arthur NR Robinson was buried in Tobago, and prominent attorney Dana Seetahal, SC, was brutally gunned down later that night.

“At the time of coming into the country and bringing condolences to the nation as well, it was also a time of being able to see what are some of the goals and resolutions that we could (set) for 2015... that will be a part of what we already launched at the UN in 2014,” she said, noting that it is a time when there is a need for women to have a shelter, a place away from home and family that they can go to without any fear.

“I think it’s such a noble cause coming from women taking this innovation and agitating for this type of project that also could be looked at around the world as we address all forms of violence against women at the world level and at the global level,” Blakely said. The elder said the home was located in the hills of Arima, a serene, scenic place where, after having to endure abuse, a woman could reflect, pray and renew her own spirit, and innovate a way of life. It is a spiritual place for healing, she said.

Blakely said it was her hope that the work being done at the UN would benefit the women of this country, and by extension, the Caribbean. The United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) has launched Beijing+20, a process to assess how far Member States and other stakeholders have come in implementing the commitments made at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China, in 1995. This action was part of a resolution on the future organisation and methods of work proposed by the Commission on the Status of Women which has ECOSOC adopted. Since 1995, the Commission on the Status of Women has played a central role in monitoring, reviewing and appraising progress achieved and problems encountered in implementing the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action – the most comprehensive global policy framework to achieve the goals of gender equality, development and peace, which world leaders committed to in 12 critical areas of concern.

“Violence against women (takes place) all over the world. I was numb over the murder of a woman (Seetahal) of such prominence in this country. You think of women from countries such as India and Pakistan, and the young girl, Malala, who was shot in the face because she stood up for the right for woman to receive an education. So you think of all forms of violence, this is what all women of the world have been discussing, especially in the last three years. It would be very befitting that we as women look in our own backyards and see what we should be doing around the issue,” she said.

Blakely said at the UN, one of their concerns was how did they forge young women in leadership. “Here in TT this is real, it is happening right before my eyes and to have witnessed a young woman in leadership and all of the things she has given to the nation...you can say this is divine intervention. Sometimes we don’t know why we are chosen to be where we are at the time we are. I am a catalyst for change for women – there is emotional, intellectual, spiritual violence and we must act upon that,” she said. Blakely has written about her experiences on the streets in her autobiography The Harlem Street Nun. She has sued Walt Disney Co and Sony Pictures whose movies Sister Act and Sister Act – Back In The Habit, starring Whoopi Goldberg, she claims are loosely based on her book. However a judge told Blakely that she waited too long to file suit and that the statute of limitations had run out, but she’s hoping that her case is heard because Sister Act: the Musical opened at the Broadway Theater in 2011 and is on a global tour.

Of the book, she said, “The purpose... is to hold on to your innate gifts that God has endowed you with. Creative energy comes from the Creator, let no man rob you of your inspirations, your reflections and your spiritual awakening that only the Creator can endow you.

“There are those that want to abuse, snatch, rape, pillage, exploit and annihilate your gifts. They will do anything in their power to silence you from claiming what is rightfully yours. No one has a right to dehumanise you in your mystical and sacred space because you are destined to be here.”


"Queen Mother Dr Delois Blakely"

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