Women of Labour have always made it happen  – Deborah Charles
May 19, 2015
Women of Labour have always made it happen – Deborah Charles

Deborah Charles, the woman who will contest the West Kingstown seat on a Unity Labour Party (ULP) ticket for the upcoming general elections, says if she’s elected, her main focus will be on self-help development projects.{{more}}

“I will focus on the development of youths through creative educational programmes which will include literacy, numeracy and building knowledge and competence in ICT.

“I will fight for the building of a Learning Resource Centre in the constituency. I will ensure that the ULP government’s developmental policies and programmes of job creation, education, housing and caring for the aged and infirmed, positively impact the lives of the constituents of West Kingstown,” she said.

Charles, a newcomer to the political arena, was at the time addressing the ULP Women’s Arm Convention on Sunday, at the West St George Secondary School.

According to Charles, the ULP has a rich history of progressive thinkers; a history of stalwarts who have contributed in significant ways to the development of this party; and a history of persons who have contributed to the development of this country.

“Today, we, the women of Labour have much to celebrate. Like our founding fathers, the women of Labour have played a very important role in the formation and development of this great political institution.

“Women were and continue to be a chief ingredient in the glue that keeps the fabric of our party together. The women of Labour have always made it happen…,” she said.

In her speech, Charles pointed out the hurdles women face in contesting general elections and stated that the cultural norms and values and the critical nature of a woman’s role in the family are some reasons why men outnumber women in formal ‘representative’ politics.

“However, that does not take away from the sterling contributions women have made in the political arena across the Caribbean and right here at home. Women continue to inspire and more and more of us continue to pick up the mantle of representative politics,” she stated.

Charles, an educator, stated that the ULP has always recognized women as “equal contributors” to the development and growth this country.

“We have never hesitated to put women in positions of authority and decision making. Throughout the public service and in government statutory entities, women hold top positions. The ULP is the only party that has appointed three women to top foreign diplomatic posts.

“I speak of Her Excellencies La Celia Prince and Rhonda King, ambassadors to the USA and the United Nations respectively; and of former ambassador to the UN, Mrs Margaret Ferrari. Our own woman of labour, the Honourable René Baptiste is serving us proud as the first elected speaker of the OECS Assembly.”

She said while it is important for women to get involved in ‘representative politics’, her main focus is on the role of women in the continued development in the country.

Charles further added that the ruling adminstration has a lot of good work to defend and urged party supporters to work hard to ensure a brighter future.

“We cannot go back to the times when latrines, buckets, rivers, and bush were what many of our people had to use for toilets. No, we cannot go back to that! We cannot go back to the times of being boastful about economic growth and surplus while our sisters had to attend school in the morning and our brothers and neighbours had to attend in the afternoon…

“We cannot go back to the times when teachers, police, nurses and civil servants had to put up what they and their family owned in order to take out a mortgage, to build a decent house. We cannot go back to the times when only 39 out of every 100 primary school children were selected for secondary school, while the other 61 had to make do how they could…

“We cannot go back to the times when Vincentian students could not continue to study at UWI (University of the West Indies) because our government failed to pay the economic cost. We cannot go back to the days when a government thought it was impossible to build a bridge across the Rabacca Dry River, condemning our Carib and Garifuna people to the mercies of the river. Women of labour, we cannot let this country go back to the days of the NDP!” Charles stated.

Furthermore, she said she wants to ensure that women are empowered not just by talk and pseudo intellectual chatter, but by the provision of educational opportunities, a housing programme that allows them to own their own homes, equal job opportunities and socio-economic programmes that alleviate their poverty.

“We are here today because we want to ensure that the economy of this country continues to be pragmatically and prudently managed – knowing that this kind of management is about the well-being of real flesh and blood people and not about an exercise in arithmetic.

“Women and people of West Kingstown, with your support I will return this seat to the fold of the ULP,” Charles promised.

“By God’s grace, I pledge to be a teacher for all of my useful life. The constituency of West Kingstown will be my classroom and the people will be the ones I teach, nurture and care for. I will listen to them, I will learn from them and I will do my very best to better their lives.”