Nita Barrow

Royal College of Nursing Hugh Springer University of Toronto
Infinite Construction - STEAM

Dame Nita Barrow

5th Governor-General of Barbados
In office
6 June 1990 – 19 December 1995
MonarchElizabeth II
Prime MinisterLloyd Erskine Sandiford
Owen Arthur
Preceded byHugh Springer
Succeeded byClifford Husbands
Personal details
Born(1916-11-15)15 November 1916
Saint Lucy, Barbados
Died19 December 1995(1995-12-19) (aged 79)
Bridgetown, Barbados
Alma materUniversity of Toronto

Dame Ruth Nita Barrow, GCMG DA, (15 November 1916 – 19 December 1995) was the first female Governor-General of Barbados.[1] Barrow was a nurse and a public health servant from Barbados. She served as Governor-General of Barbados from 6 June 1990 until her death on 19 December 1995.[2] She was the older sister of Errol Barrow, first Prime Minister of Barbados.

Early life

Ruth Nita Barrow was born in Barbados, to a respected Anglican priest, the Reverend Reginald Grant Barrow and Mrs. Ruth Alberta Barrow.[3] She was the second of her parents' five children, whom included Sybil Barrow, Ena Comma, and Errol Barrow.[4][5] 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/1950s.[4][6] She suffered from a massive stroke the night of her death and is survived by her sisters, Sybil Barrow and Ena Comma.


She began her nursing profession in her early years following in the steps of her uncle and father, and completed her basic training at the Barbados General Hospital.[7] She then began training in midwifery at the Port-of-Spain General Hospital in Trinidad.[7] Barrow was a graduate in nursing from Columbia University, New York, University of Toronto, Canada and the University of Edinburgh, Scotland.[7] She later continued her education in a specialized study at the Royal College of Nursing of Edinburgh University in 1951 to 1952 and at Columbia University in 1962 to 1963. As a public servant, she served as an Instructress at the West Indies School of Public Health in Jamaica in 1945 to 1950. She later became responsible in the Nursing and Public Health fields as the first West Indian Matron of the University College Hospital in 1954 and the first Principal Nursing Officer in Jamaica in 1956. Following the regional expansion of the West Indies School, she became a director of a nursing research project at the Commonwealth Caribbean. This led to modernizing nurses training and began the Advanced Nursing program at the University of the West Indies.[8]


Barrow's career began in 1964, when she became a Nursing Advisor for the Pan American Health Organization for the Caribbean area. In 1975, she became the Director of the Christian Medical Commission of the World Council of Churches (WCC) and President of the World YWCA (1975–1983).[8][9] She was president of the International Council of Adult Education (ICAE) from 1982 through 1990 and Convenor of the Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Forum for the Decade of Women in Nairobi, Kenya in 1983.[8] In 1985, at the Nairobi World Conference on Women, Barrow served as the chair of the NGO Forum.[10]

She was a member of the Commonwealth Group of Eminent Persons that visited South Africa in 1986. During that mission she successfully thwarted South Africa's military restrictions, through entering the restricted area of Alexandra township disguised in African garb and head-dress.[11]

In 1980 Barrow was conferred the highest honor in Barbados; she was made a Dame of St. Andrew (DA) of the Order of Barbados. She was also awarded an Honorary Fellowship of the Royal College of Nursing.


The Errol & Nita Barrow Educational Trust raises funds and make financial awards to enable Bajans and Commonwealth Caribbean citizens to pursue a course of study that will further the development of Barbados and the Caribbean.[12]

The ICAE created the Dame Nita Barrow award which supports regional and nation adult education organizations that have made a great contribution towards the empowerment of women.[7]

Die Nita Barrow Collection, a collection of documents about Nita Barrow's life and times, has been inscribed into UNESCO's list on world documentary heritage, the Memory of the World Register.[13]


Honors and awards


  1. Blackman, Francis Woodie. Dame Nita: Caribbean Woman, World Citizen. Kingston, Jamaica: Ian Randle Publishers, 1985.
  1. ^ COLLECTIONS & LIBRARIES: Their Excellencies, Cave Hill Campus Library, University of the West Indies.
  2. ^ Carrington, Sean (2007). A~Z of Barbados Heritage. Macmillan Caribbean Publishers Limited. pp. 20–21. ISBN 978-0-333-92068-8.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "Dame Nita Barrow: An authentic heroine in Caribbean womanhood - ProQuest". ProQuest 200709411. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  4. ^ a b Woodie Blackman, "Obituary: Dame Nita Barrow", The Independent, 22 December 1995.
  5. ^ "The New York Times".
  6. ^ "Dame Nita Barrow", Ciwil.
  7. ^ a b c d "Adult Learning Unleashed".
  8. ^ a b c "Obituary".
  9. ^ "Ruth Nita Barrow".
  10. ^ Fraser, Arvonne S. (2013). "UN Decade for Women: The Power of Words and Organizations". Women and Social Movements, International. Alexandria, Virginia: Alexander Street Press, LLC. Archived from the original on 8 July 2013. Retrieved 11 May 2017.
  11. ^ Carrington (2003).
  12. ^ "Welcome". Website of errolandnitabarroweducati!. Retrieved 28 July 2020.
  13. ^ "Nita Barrow Collection | United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization". Retrieved 29 August 2017.