Our strength is in our unity, despite our differences
October 26, 2012
Our strength is in our unity, despite our differences

Fri, Oct 26, 2012

The National Council of Women – Independence Message,
by Silma Mc Lean
1st Vice President

Today we take special pride in saluting our blessed and beloved SVG. Let us recall with pride the great sacrifice of our freedom fighters, whose undying love for SVG secured us our freedom.

On this happy occasion the National Council of Women salutes the hard work of all our citizens who have, over these 33 years, helped build a new SVG. Let us bow our heads in memory of all our brave citizens who have sacrificed their lives for the cause of our unity, integrity and progress.{{more}}

Thirty-three years ago, we began a new journey as a free nation. But our dream of a free SVG would only be fully realized when we banish poverty from our midst.

Today, when I look back, I can say with some satisfaction that we are undoubtedly moving forward in the right direction. We have been slow in taking some steps; we have dithered at times, and stumbled some times. We have had success on some fronts, and setbacks on some others. But, there is no doubt that we have been steadfast in our resolve, firm in our convictions and resolute in our commitment to the welfare of the common man.

We do feel a sense of satisfaction that on many fronts we have done well. Yet, we are aware that there is much more to be done. We have moved forward in the many battles against poverty and ignorance. But can we say we have won the war? We have been able to step up the rate of growth. But can we say we are satisfied with the pace? Even after years of development and rising growth rates, why have we not been able to banish poverty and provide employment to all?

I ask these questions not to belittle our achievements, but to inspire us to greater effort. I ask not to make you feel dispirited, but to enthuse you to march forward.

Since Independence, our development process has empowered our workers and farmers; it has made our citizens skilled and energetic; and, has made our business class dynamic.

Poverty eradication is now a feasible goal.

How do we translate this goal into reality? We must understand that it is only through sustained economic growth and development that we can banish poverty from our midst. There is no magic wand. As creativity and enterprise blossom, new jobs are created and new incomes for new generations of working people.

Therefore, it is essential that we create new employment opportunities. Remember, there is no developed country today anywhere in the world, that is not an industrial economy. Industrialization is critical for progress.

Industrialization offers new opportunities and hope, especially for people in rural areas displaced by agrarian change. It is our societal obligation to ensure that the processes of development ensure that everyone is better off, and no one is worse off.

For every one of our people to benefit from new employment opportunities being created across the economy, we must ensure that every Vincentian is educated and skilled. No nation can progress unless its people are educated. We have seen our Government’s commitment in this regard by increasing public spending on education. Education alone is the foundation on which a progressive, prosperous society can be built.

We should seek not just functional literacy, but good quality education – education that is affordable, accessible, equitable – and available to every boy and girl who seeks to study. More scholarships should be provided for the needy.

I would like this message to go to every corner of SVG – we will make SVG a nation of educated people, of skilled people, of creative people.

Democracy and development mean nothing for those who are not touched by the hand of progress.

We should be committed to the economic, social, political and educational empowerment of the minorities.

Let us reaffirm our commitment to the welfare and well being of people with disabilities of various kinds, as well as our senior citizens for whom all of us have a special place in our heart and mind. Let’s ensure that our children are safe and well cared for.

In the rush of modernization and the race to develop we must not forget the value of conserving our resources.

Each one of us must be aware of how what we do impacts on nature and our climate. People across the world are increasingly concerned about global warming. And so must we be. This we owe humanity and to posterity. We must be the change we want to see.

In our quest for a caring, sharing and an inclusive society, we must develop the spirit of good neighborliness with all people, irrespective of our political persuasion. Our strength lies in our unity. Those who profess hatred and extremism, and those who believe in violence and crime have no place in our society. We must all fight these forces, each in our own way, in our daily lives. Let us create and live in an atmosphere of peace and prosperity.

We are a nation of young people. Once unleashed, the energy of our youth will drive SVG onto a new growth path. However, we must not be over-confident. We have a long march ahead. We need to work hard and sustain the growth to realize our dreams. We have to bridge the many divides in our society and work with a unity of purpose. We need to think of the future and be steadfast in our resolve to march forward. We must capitalize the dynamism that pervades our people, our women, our youth, our farmers, our businesses.

We must have faith in our strength and confidence in our capabilities. Each of us has our individual identities. However, every citizen must recognize that we are Vincentians first and last. We fritter away our time on petty issues and pointless personal differences. I urge all political parties, all political and social leaders to resist the temptation to divide people along narrow, sectarian lines. Our strength is in our unity, despite our differences. It is that unity which gave us our Independence. It is that unity that gives us our strength as a nation.

This was the dream of our founding fathers. We should not move away from this dream, and must face the future with courage. However, “laws and constitutions do not by themselves make a country great. It is the enthusiasm, energy and constant effort of a people that make it a great nation.”

Let us all come together and work resolutely for the welfare of our people and for the development of our nation.