WOMEN OF LABOUR

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By ROSIE FREGIS

In 1910, the women in New York and Europe stood up and de­manded change. At an In­ter­na­tional Women’s con­fer­ence in Europe, not long af­ter, In­ter­na­tional Women’s Day was born as an an­nual event ded­i­cated to cel­e­brate women and in­spire change. This year, Saint Lu­cian women cel­e­brated their sol­i­dar­ity with women around the world on 8th March. “Be­lated Happy In­ter­na­tional Women’s Day” to all Saint Lu­cian women, here and abroad. The Theme for this year’s cel­e­bra­tion was “Pledge for par­ity: Hats off to our el­derly”. This theme was spe­cially cho­sen to al­low us to re­flect on the im­por­tant role of the el­derly in our so­ci­ety and the role of us, women in their lives.

One can­not deny the fact that our el­derly de­serve re­spect for hav­ing kept the fam­i­lies, the fab­ric of our so­ci­ety, to­gether with­out hes­i­ta­tion or re­grets. They have with­stood many of life’s tests, hav­ing tur­moil and al­ways gave their best. They have molded and shaped our coun­try well, us­ing God as a guid­ing force. They have proven to be an ex­am­ple for us all, for with­out their knowl­edge and ex­per­tise, we would have truly in­deed been lost.

Our Saint Lu­cia women con­tinue to shoul­der the bulk of the re­spon­si­bil­ity for car­ing for the el­derly. It would ap­pear that the key to the el­derly re­ceiv­ing help in Saint Lu­cia is to have at least one daugh­ter, al­though el­derly care is the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the en­tire fam­ily. Since the rec­on­cil­i­a­tion of work and fam­ily life, is still mainly re­garded as a woman’s prob­lem, in the case where the bur­den is too much to bear, the el­derly is thrust aside into a home or left alone. The im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Care­givers Pro­gramme by the Govern­ment was a wel­come re­lief for many el­derly and their care­givers. Even with this pro­gramme, it is still the women who are the ma­jor providers of the el­derly care. Whether the el­derly rel­a­tives are placed in homes or are part of the Care­givers Pro­gramme, it is still vi­tally im­por­tant to main­tain feel­ings of fam­ily sup­port with them, be­cause this im­proves their qual­ity of life. With­out fam­ily vis­its or at­ten­tion, the el­derly may fall into a de­pres­sion, or feel all alone. A big part of any el­derly care pro­gram is to give emo­tional sup­port. Stud­ies show that this can im­prove life ex­pectancy of the very ones who molded and shaped our coun­try well, by sev­eral years. Ad­di­tion­ally, giv­ing emo­tional sup­port can cre­ate a more pos­i­tive and op­ti­mistic en­vi­ron­ment for the aged.

For this rea­son, the Women of Labour will be hon­our­ing the cen­te­nar­i­ans at a church ser­vice in Mi­coud on Sun­day, 13th March, 2016.

While it is an honourable thing to take care of our el­derly, care­giv­ing will even­tu­ally take its toll. It is no se­cret that men re­spond to care giv­ing re­spon­si­bil­i­ties in a fun­da­men­tally dif­fer­ent way than women. Men re­spond by work­ing harder to earn more money to shoul­der the fi­nan­cial bur­den as­so­ci­ated with care­giv­ing. Women, on the other hand how­ever, tend to stay home to pro­vide time­con­sum­ing care to the fam­ily mem­bers. The im­pact of the women’s in­ten­sive care­giv­ing can be sub­stan­tial which can some­times lead to de­pres­sion caused by the stress­ful work. It would help sig­nif­i­cantly if the male – hus­bands, brothers or sons – would give more phys­i­cal, fi­nan­cial and emo­tional help in the ac­tual care of the fam­ily mem­ber. More­over, we are hope­ful that the Govern­ment, which has re­lieved the bur­den on women con­sid­er­ably by im­ple­ment­ing the Care­givers Pro­gramme, will take it one step fur­ther and im­ple­ment pol­icy so­lu­tions to en­sure that women who care for older adults re­ceive the sup­port they need.

I take this op­por­tu­nity to say a spe­cial “Thank You” to all the women who play a spe­cial part in the lives of our el­derly and I send out spe­cial love to our el­der women as it is not of­ten ex­pressed.

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