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Wed, 11.15.1916

Ruth Barrow, Jamaican Health Educator

Ruth N. Barrow

Ruth Nita Barrow was born on this date in 1916. She was a Jamaican nurse, politician, and administrator.

She was born in Barbados at Nesfield, St. Lucy, where she trained as a nurse, midwife, and health care administrator.  She held a variety of nursing, public health and public administration jobs in Barbados and Jamaica in the 1940s and 1950s.  Barrow made her contributions in several arenas, but her most prominent contributions were in nursing education and with the YWCA. She worked on the professional organization of nurses and the establishment of quality nursing education.

Her accomplishments in all the areas in which she chose to work is phenomenal. One has only to look at a few of the highlights of her career. She was the first World Health Organization (WHO) Nurse from the Caribbean, the first president of the Jamaica Nurses Association, the first Black Caribbean woman to be appointed to a senior post by the Colonial Office in the Caribbean, and the first Black president of the World-Wide YWCA in 1975.

Before her retirement in 1980, she was the first woman director of the Christian Medical Commission (CMC), which is the health arm of the World Council of Churches.  She was the convener of the 1985 nongovernmental organization (NGO) forum held in Nairobi, Kenya; Barbados' prominent representative to the United Nations; and the only woman on the eminent person's group.  This group, the Commonwealth Secretariat appointed to attempt a rapprochement in South Africa. The opportunities for training were taken up as they came and Nita Barrow moved from nurse to nursing instructor at the School of Public Health in Jamaica to consultant for the World Health Organization.

She was acclaimed globally for her skill, graciousness, and talent in convening the Decade of Women non-governmental forum in Nairobi in 1985. There were over 1,300 workshops and thousands of women from the world over. Many of these women were on opposite sides of the political fence and Nita Barrow and her staff ensured the smooth running of this potentially volatile event.

In 1986, she was appointed Barbados' permanent representative to the United Nations. She was in the Commonwealth's eminent person's group that tried to get the opposing parties in South Africa to a negotiating table.

She received two honorary doctorates, one from MacMaster University in Canada and one from the University of the West Indies and was made an Honorary Fellow from the Royal College of Nursing, Great Britain. Barrow was the Governor-general of Barbados from June 1990 to her death on December 19, 1995.

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Reference:

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