Nita Barrow Collection

Nita Barrow Collection

Country  Barbados
Repository  Main Library, the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, P.O. Box 1334, Bridgetown BB11000, St. Michael, Barbados, West Indies
Section  Inscriptions on International Register
Gender Dimension  Records on gender equality issues; Achievements of women in history
GEM  GEM 3 – Gender Transformative
Description  The Nita Barrow Collection documents the career of Dame Nita Barrow (1916-1995) who was an international advocate for gender equality and empowerment, anti-racism, poverty alleviation and healthcare education and improvement. It is a complete collection of Dame Nita’s personal working manuscripts, speeches, correspondence and personal collection of monographs and includes photographs, correspondence, invitations, diplomas and degrees.

Dame Nita Barrow was born in the Caribbean island of Barbados and is one of the most distinguished women of the 20th century. She was made a Dame of St. Andrew in 1980 and a Dame Grand Cross of the Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George in 1990. She was the first women Governor-General of Barbados (1990-1095). The documentary heritage covers an era of significant world changing events such as the empowerment of women and the rise and fall of the apartheid system in South Africa.

She was president of three major international bodies, the World Council of Churches– 1983-91; the Young Women’s Christian Association– 1975-83; and the International Council for Adult Education – 1989-90. Her leadership of these international bodies at those particular times enabled her to champion causes such as gender equality and empowerment, healthcare improvement and education, poverty alleviation and anti-racism. These presidencies were significant because prior to her holding these posts women, and particularly black women, were excluded from such positions of power.

She was the convenor of the 1985 Non-Governmental Organization Forum for the Decade of Women in Nairobi, Kenya and earned international acclaim for her management of more than 16,000 delegates representing approximately 157 organizations. The conference which brought together participants of diverse cultures was later declared “the largest gathering of women in the history of the United Nations.” In 1986, she was the only woman in the Commonwealth Group of Eminent Persons to South Africa to negotiate the end of apartheid in that country and the release of Nelson Mandela.

Dame Nita’s life was an outstanding example of dedication, commitment and international service to women, men and children, especially the poor, dispossessed and disadvantaged.

The documentary heritage was inscribed onto the Memory of the World international register in 2009.
Reference  -

- Carmen Hutchinson Miller. (2008). ‘Overview of the Nita Barrow Collection’, available at

- Photo credit: © The University of the West Indies