Tuesday 23 July, 2019

SLPWO's Women's Day message condemns UWP administration

Standing on one end of a tight rope with a tea cup and saucer in one hand and a tea pot in the other, trying to make your way across this rope which is set 15 feet above the ground. Your family is waiting on the other end of this rope. Waiting patiently for what you’re bringing in that tea pot, to be served in that tea cup.

As I sit down to prepare these words of solidarity, on this International Women’s Day and I think of this year’s theme Balancing for Better, this is the image that conjures in my mind of women as they go about their daily lives. Women who wake every day determined to fight, strive and build better tomorrows for themselves and their families. Be you a single woman, a single mother, a married woman, a widow, a young or an elderly woman; every day is a challenge to balance every situation in your life coming out on the other end better for it.

As we go about this International Women’s Day celebrating, struggling, surviving, rising above and performing each of our individual balancing acts, I want to ask us to not only think of ourselves but to also think of each other, think of our communities and our society on a whole. Think of all of the challenges that we as women face and how if we all come together as one to fight for the rights of every woman in St. Lucia, what a different society we would wake up to each day.

As we go about acknowledging and celebrating this day, I would like to call upon our current administration, especially our women ministers in the Allen Chastenet led administration, who for the last three years have sat by silently and watched not just the rights of St. Lucian women, but also their own rights be trampled upon by this administration in so many different ways. They have sat in parliament and have allowed the good old boys to bring us back to the ages where the notion of women is that a being barefoot and pregnant, silently and blindly being led by men, without an opinion of their own, or a voice of their own. How in 2019 are we still seeing this behavior from our women parliamentarians, is a question I ask myself often.

I have noticed over the last few weeks a lunch to celebrate International Women’s Day which will be hosted by the Prime Minister’s wife being advertised via social media. I’d like to applaud the Prime Minister’s wife for her initiative as I also noticed on the flyer that the proceeds are set to go to our agencies who work with our vulnerable communities. However, I would like to ask, what about the many women who today and going forward don’t have a meal to eat, can’t send their children to school, have a sick child crying at home, but are unable to take them to the doctor, or worse, they themselves are sick but because of having to balance for better, they have to choose between going to the doctor and putting a meal on the table. We have seen over the last few years how the administration led by your husband has removed many of our social safety nets, that those same vulnerable communities have relied on to assist them in walking this daily tight rope of life. In recent times the ones which have created the most challenges for women who are head of households is the removal of the Distress Fund, lack of adequate affordable health care, and relief from the exorbitant prices of food.

We have been called mendicants, beggars, jackasses, but I ask you, when you remove a person’s ability to adequately provide for themselves in a way that promotes pride and dignity in oneself, are we not going to end up with a society of mendicants, beggars and jackasses. Many studies have made the correlation between poverty and poor judgement and decision-making skills. I am sure many of us have had the experience of being hungry (created from many different scenarios) where it is just impossible to think until you have had something to eat. So let’s imagine being hungry, having a sick child and not having a proper roof over your head. Challenges, challenges, walking that tight rope, balancing that tea pot and tea cup, balancing to make the next minute, the next hour, the next day better.
In closing, I would like to send out a heart wrenching plea to this current administration to come to the aid of women in St. Lucia; reinstate the Distress Fund, finish St. Jude’s hospital and ensure that Health City Cayman does right by our society in their operations of OKEU hospital. Our women are crying, our women are fighting, our women are waking up each day, walking that tight rope, Balancing for Better. Let us please place this net under that tight rope, so should they miss and fall we are able to catch them, strengthen them; and send them back up that ladder to walk this rope again.

Happy International Women’s Day to all women in St. Lucia and the Disapora. Let us work together as we continue to Balance for Better.

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