PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — On this International Women’s Day, I would like to wish all women and girls a Happy International Women’s Day, especially the women of St. Maarten. St. Maarten is also historically known as Oualichi, which means Land of Strong Women.
The women of our land are also indeed strong. I must honor all women of influence, women in leadership in our homes, schools, churches, in the community and in government for the role they play in raising and shaping our tiny island nation.
Being the only female Minister amongst the men, I am deeply honored to be a woman, one of Oualichi descent, proud to be your voice and represent you – to bring the woman’s perspective to the floor. All women are to be honored, but I would like to honor the women who contribute to the lives of everyone they come in contact with on a daily; those are mothers, caretakers, teachers, providers and nurturers.
On this 8th day of March in 2017, we as women must assess where we were, what it took to arrive here, where we are today and where we want to be 50 years from now. Are we the shop owners, leaders in our communities and partners in our relationships that we want to be? Are we nurturing our children, teaching respect, self-control, compassion, love and equity? Do we realize the wonderful responsibility we have to do so?
We should strive to create the culture we would like to see by how we treat each other, how we expect others including men to treat us, and how we behave as a reflection of our inner beauty, strength and intelligence.
As women we refuse to be judged by our looks, but by our character and the quality of our work.
As women we denounce the blatant objectification of women, which diminishes our value.
As women we must strive to empower our young girls to strive to be more than a pretty face or a perfect body.
As women we demand and deserve equal pay for equal work and equal opportunities for education and work.
There are women in our community who have empowered me, and have been a role model to in my eyes – my mother; Nadia, the 1st teacher to inspire me: Ms. Mavis Brooks-Salmon, Sarah Wescott-Williams, Nilda Arduin, Clara Reyes, Dorothy Richardson, close friend; Carmen Berkel, and young people in the community; Aiyaunty Rombley who gave an amazing presentation at the language competition 2 weeks ago, Rochana Richardson, LaRich, Tyra Els, Makheda Shillingford, Tatia Brunings, Murielle Jean-Michel, Nicole de Weever, Melanie Choisy and so many more.
Women, let’s make it our business to strengthen our society one woman, one man and one child at a time. As we celebrate International Women’s Day, let us pledge to honor women for the role they play in society every day and strive to raise a nation of strong men and women passionate about the progress of this country we call Oualichi / St. Maarten and her precious people.