Senator Kerry-Ann F. Ifill, first female President of the Senate of Barbados, is a former Turin Centre participant
Senator Ifill participated in the course “Labour market integration of people with disabilities” from 15 to 24 October 2007.
“Full of firsts”: Senator Kerryann Ifill has created history in Barbados by becoming the first woman, first disabled person and the youngest person at the age of 38 to be elected to this role.
A graduate of the University of the West Indies (UWI) and postgraduate student of Durham Business School, Senator Ifill began losing her sight at the age of four. This exceptional lady was the first blind person to complete her course of study and within three years, to honour a promise she made to herself.
She has never let blindness affect her life. “I look at life this way – you do what you are supposed to do and you do it the best way you can. If you happen to be blind, well, just find a way to do it. With being blind, I do not waste time complaining over my being blind... Blindness is a part of me. That is like saying, today I won’t be a woman. You are a woman all of the time. Yes, we have challenges to overcome as women but that does not mean that we have to stop being who we are. We are women, I am blind. That is part of it, so I do what I have to do,” is her pragmatic perspective.
Her life has been one of determination and dedication to excellence. She has pursued her career goals while working full time at the Barbados Council for the Disabled. Senator Ifill would like to see the Ratification of the Convention of the Rights for Persons with Disabilities come to fruition in Barbados. According to Kerryann – as she likes to be called – there must be more employment opportunities for people with disabilities. “People with disabilities are citizens, we are entitled to the rights like all citizens; one of those rights is the right to work and the right to contribute. We don’t have to be service recipients. We can be service providers as well. The only way we can contribute to National Insurance is if we are working.”
The strengthening of Senator Ifill’s competencies, through her participation in a learning workshop on campus, was our modest contribution to her exceptional achievement. We wish her continued success in her new position!