WOMEN OF LABOUR
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.