The St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party has always been a movement of inclusion. Even at a time when society was stringent on gender roles, the SKNLP has always promoted means of gender parity, not just in speeches, but also led the way in ensuring that women were treated fairly and given the very same opportunities as men.In St. Kitts and Nevis, we can boast that within the SKNLP organization, and under an SKNLP administration, women have been promoted to some of the highest offices, and have earned their seat at the table to contribute to the progress of the movement and the country, just like any man.As the SKNLP joins the rest of the world in celebrating the strides made and the tenacity of women, it is only fitting for us to look within and highlight some dynamic women who have contributed significantly to the successes of the SKNLP and for St. Kitts-Nevis’ posterity, extend.Today, we highlight Madame M. Astona Griffin-Browne, mother, teacher, friend, diplomat, and a strong Labour woman.M. Astona Griffin-Browne, affectionately known as Madame Browne, began her professional career as an educator. As a teacher of French, she had the opportunity to interact with students with varying levels of appreciation for the language. Her greatest fulfillment is to see many of them excel to the height of their own professional accomplishment, even pursuing a career as teachers of foreign languages. She spoke of the impact of her own teachers e.g. the late Ms. Zenaida Katzen and Ms. Clarita Richards who inspired her during her early years in High School and was pleased that, in turn, she could have impacted others likewise. She underwent training at the Ecole Normale ( Guadeloupe) and Teachers Training College ( St. Kitts-Nevis) where she excelled and was subsequently awarded a scholarship to pursue an undergraduate degree at the University of the West Indies. She served as a trained graduate teacher for several years before leaving the profession.In 1995 after pursuing post-graduate studies in the field of International Relations she changed career paths and was transferred to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs where she ultimately entered the diplomatic service. She served as Minister Counselor at the Permanent Mission of St Kitts and Nevis to the United Nations, New York, working alongside former Ambassador the late H.E. Sir Lee L Moore, and subsequently with Ambassador, the late H. E. Joseph Christmas.At the end of her posting overseas, she returned to the Federation and was subsequently promoted to the post of Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs. During her tenure, she laid the groundwork for the establishment of the Legal Aid Clinic which was designed to provide legal assistance to the most vulnerable in our society. As we focus on women for the commemoration of International Women’s Day/Month we would recall her appointment as the first female Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security as well as the first to be appointed to fill the post of OECS Commissioner for St Kitts and Nevis under the revised Treaty of Basseterre.Her service in the field of security extended beyond our borders where she was nominated chairperson of the CARICOM Management Committee for Crime and Security as well as Co-chair with the United States representative for the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative. Working in close collaboration with the Security Chiefs at the national and regional levels she witnessed the successful implementation of several initiatives designed to build the capacity of the law enforcement and military officers and enhanced the overall security mechanism.The Labour Party Administration was known for its appointment of the most females to serve as Permanent Secretaries in the Federation. According to Mrs. Browne, “It was my honor to have worked in the Ministries headed by Labour’s former Ministers who in their respective ways provided critical support to the implementation of Government’s national development agenda. I had the distinct privilege to serve in the Office/ Ministries of former Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Denzil L Douglas whose philosophy of empowerment was the driving force behind the transformation of the lives of the people and the creation of opportunities for upward mobility through employment and education.”Mrs. Browne expressed her gratitude to the Government for allowing her the opportunity to serve at the highest level in the Civil Service during her tenure and encourages young women and their peers to strive to fulfill their dreams and aspirations with faith and confidence in the Almighty.The executive body, and supporters of the SKNLP, join with the general public in saluting Madame Browne for her unwavering support and contribution to the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis.
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