Bishop Speech - Address to the First Congress of the
National Women's Organisation,
National Convention Center, St. George's, 6 December 1982

Our party and government salutes this historic first congress of our National Women’s Organisation and this outstanding tribute to the free, fighting women of free and revolutionary Grenada.

It has been a long, hard road to this day.

This fifth anniversary, this historic first congress has not come about easily, without a tremendous amount of sacrifice, a tremendous amount of struggle on the part of the leading women of our country.

We can see this struggle in several different ways.

We can recognise the great achievements of our fighting women if we just pause to consider the fact that when this National Women’s Organisation was formed five years ago on December 10th, 1977, we were talking about 60 of the leading women of our country getting together.

A few years later, on March 13th, 1979, the dawn of our Revolution, there were only 120 women in the NWO.

And even as late as December 1980, the figure stood at only 1,500 in 47 groups around the country.

Yet by December 1981, as a result of that massive mobilisational drive that ran from July to December, we are able today to proclaim to the world that our NWO now stands at 6,500 strong.

SACRIFICE AND SUFFERING BROUGHT ACHIEVEMENTS

And, comrades, as Comrade Phyllis was pointing out, this achievement came about as a result of tremendous suffering and exploitation of the women of our country – exploitation from slavery, through colonialism, Gairyism, GNP-ism, neocolonial independence – exploitation and suffering which saw the women of our country without jobs, with some 70% of them unemployed before the Revolution; exploitation which left our women without dignity having to subject themselves to sexual exploitation in return for work, exploitation which left our women without any security, without any maternity leave, without the right to join trade unions, without the right to equal pay for equal work, exploitation which saw the women of our country with no opportunity for developing themselves individually and collectively, with no opportunity to participate in a democratic way in the running of their own country.

This exploitation left the women of our country with no peace but only with harassment as a result of the brutal beatings of their husbands, sons and brothers, and as a result of the brutal humiliation that they themselves had to be subjected to at the hands of Gairy’s green beasts, secret police and Mongoose Gang.

All of this exploitation and suffering never for one moment daunted the courage and fighting spirit of the Grenadian women who always came back fighting.

At every stage of our history from slavery through colonialism and Gairyism, we have been able to see this struggle and fight on the part of our women.

Let’s consider the recent past – the last 12 years.

Who can ever forget the glorious marches of 1970 led by the nurses of our country, marches that were not called to get better wages for themselves but marches and demonstrations called because of their concern over lack of bandages and medicines and aspirins and basic facilities in what was being called a hospital but could better have been described as the third department of La Qua’s Funeral Agency.

Who could ever forget that year and the struggle and courage of those nurses.

And who can ever forget 1971 when the women farmers of our country came out in their thousands protesting Gairy’s attempt to grab their Nutmeg Board and Nutmeg Association from them.

Who could ever forget 1973 when the women of our country were in the forefront of the people’s struggle against Lord Brownlow, that foreign parasite who believed he could come to our country and lock up our beaches claiming it was part of his property!

Who could ever forget the large number of our women who went to the airport in April 1973 after Jeremiah Richardson, one of our first martyrs – was murdered by a police bullet – and faced the guns and pressures of Belmar and his henchmen.

Who can forget the massive turn out of our women at the People’s Convention in Independence in May 1973, and at the People’s Congress in November of the same year!

Who can forget their fighting spirit then when they called on Gairy to resign and when they elected a National Unity Council in order to effect a smooth transition to power of the new Government!

Who can forget the glorious saga of our fighting women in our streets in January 1974 when, for 21 days, one third of our population marched every single day calling upon the dictator to resign.

Who can forget January 21st, 1974, when our women had to face the bullets, bullpistles and sticks of the Mongoose Gang and the criminal elements in Gairy’s armed forces and the courage and dignity with which our women stood up and fought back!

Who can forget throughout that period of 1974 and 1975, the daily acts of heroism that our women performed; hiding and burying gasoline to ensure that the leadership could move around the country during those difficult months; ensuring that the newspaper of our party always came out regardless of its suppression by the Gairy dictatorship; week after week finding paper, moving the roneo machine [mimeograph] around from house to house to avoid detection; writing the articles and typing, producing and distributing the newspapers.

Who can forget all of that heroism?

Who can forget the tremendous acts of self-sacrifice and courage played by one of our great national heroes, an elderly sister in her 60s, a sister who hid members of the party in the underground days and who every single Saturday morning would leave her house on Lucas Street and go outside with bundles of newspapers and pass those papers in a hidden form to different bus drivers going to St. Patrick’s and St. Andrew’s.

And who can forget that fateful Saturday morning while carrying out her usual revolutionary task of distributing the paper, how this sister was unfortunately crushed by a bus after slipping and falling!

Who can ever forget the outstanding, unparalleled qualities of Sister Edith McBain, one of the main heroes of the Grenada Revolution!

OUR WOMEN PLAYED THEIR ROLE ON MARCH 13TH 1979

And, as we know, comrades, plus courage was shown not just before the Revolution but also after the Revolution.

If the women of our country had not come out in their tens of thousands on Revolution morn, if they had not brought water and food to the revolutionary troops, the new troops freshly created from the youth and unemployed in our country, if they had not come out and cooked the food and joined their men folk in going to the police stations to ensure that the white flags of surrender were put up, maybe March 13th could have had a different meaning.

And who will ever forget after the Revolution, the historic rally on June 19th 1980, when we were commemorating Heroes Day as we know the women of our country were in the majority at that historic rally, and then the bomb went off and those murderers who had planned to wipe out the leadership were able to sit back and count the totality of their destruction, what did we find: 97 of our people sent to the hospital, 80 of them women, 40 hospitalised, 36 of them women, 3 murdered, all of them women.

Today, once again, we salute the memory and the sacrifice of Laurice [Humphrey], Laureen [Phillip or Charles] and Bernadette [Bailey].

Today, comrades, we also think of the heroic role our women played in tracking down those vicious counter-revolutionaries who, not satisfied with their work on June 19th 1980, proceeded on November 17th of the same year in one single night to murder five of our patriots, all young sons of our Revolution.

And when the People’s Militia and the other sections of our Armed Forces, under the leadership of General Austin, decided to look for them, and when revolutionary justice was handed out to them, the women in our militia were again in the forefront.

Today’s First Congress [NWO], therefore, symbolises and reflects the rewards and achievements for all these sacrifices and struggles.

And the reward is a very rich one, comrades.

We have seen it in the regional and international support for this First Congress and for the NWO in general, which has come from all around the world from peace-loving, democratic and progressive organisations hailing the achievements of the NWO and welcoming this historic day.

We have seen it by the presence today of comrades from the socialist world, in particular from the Soviet Union and Cuba, by comrades who have come from Europe, and from Asia where the fighting people of one particular country, in February 1978, buried feudalism in their own country once and for all, and began a process of socialist construction, and since then have been harassed night and day – we welcome the delegate from the fighting people of Afghanistan.

We can see this reward today, comrades, in the presence of our sisters from the United States and Canada, from Central America and from the Caribbean.

So there is no doubt that the NWO and this First Congress has been amply rewarded by the presence of so many outstanding fighters, the finest representative of the women of their own countries.

WIDESPREAD NATIONAL SUPPORT FOR THE NWO

But we must also mention the great local support that the NWO and the First Congress have received by our own people of Grenada.

The massive number of solidarity messages from so many different organisations of youth, students, workers, farmers, from ministries and government departments, and from state enterprises.

All sections of our people have come out and demonstrated in a concrete and practical way their support and love for the women of our country and their leading mass organisation.

They have also demonstrated their support, in part, through material offerings they have given to this Congress.

Comrades, we can speak today with the fullest confidence, absolute honesty and the firmest conviction of the rose of patriotism amongst the women of our country, of the growth in consciousness among the women of our country, of their greater commitment and dedication, of their almost unbelievable unity.

We can also see the greater internationalism of our women, the growth in their self-respect and dignity, in their self-confidence, in their ability to express themselves, to give vent to their ideas and views, and to give expression to their cultural and political creativity.

Today, we can certainly remark on the level and quality or organisation of our women and compliment them for the ever increasing exercise of people’s power in our new democracy.

And what a fantastic training in democracy our NWO sisters have had over these past few months in preparing for this Congress.

The NWO is a fully democratic organisation.

This can be seen by the fact that entry into its ranks is open to any woman over the age of 14, as well as by its respect for the right of its members to decide its programme and policy.

The NWO also insists that every three [3] years, all members have the right to elect their National Executive, and to ensure that these officers are accountable and responsible through their three-year term.

In every sense, we have seen over these past months a fantastic exercise in democratic participation by the women of our country.

This has not been a case where the President of the NWO suddenly descended on this conference centre one December morning and said that his is the programme for the next three years, as is the traditional pattern of many so called democratic organisations.

AN ACTIVITY IN DEMOCRACY

Contrary to that approach, the executive of the NWO over a period of several months, firstly prepared a draft outline of the programme for the next three years, circulated this programme in typed form to every member of the NWO, and then, for a period of several months, hundreds of discussions at group, parish and delegate levels analyzing the document, criticizing and evaluating it , searching for new ideas, for clearer formulations and more concrete perspectives were held.

The result of this activity in democracy has been such that the original draft programme has undergone tremendous changes, and the final version which was read here this morning by Comrade Phyllis Coard, represents, in fact, a document that has been put under the microscope, subjected to numerous discussions by all NWO members and undergone a number of concrete changes.

I would like now, comrades, to look at a few of the changes because I think it is very important for us to see the practical importance and value of democracy and democratic participation.

In the first draft, it was stated that the main problem facing women was jobs, but after very serious discussion at group, parish and national levels, the women had a closer look at that analysis and decided that instead, they should speak of two main problems and two main tasks.

The analysis that produced that change was fundamentally because what the sisters concluded was that it was not enough, in our context and conditions, to simply speak of unemployment as being the main problem.

Rather, it was necessary to examine at the same time how to go one step further, and look at how we can solve unemployment in a productive way that could benefit the country at large.

Coming out of that analysis, the sisters were able to go back and do a lot more concrete research, work out figures on the likely availability of jobs over the next three years, examine what kinds of skills would be required in the workforce over the next three years, analyse whether or not those women presently out of jobs were likely to fill the jobs coming on stream, and if not, look for the type of training necessary for those tasks; jobs for our women, yes, but because of the increasing complexity of the economy and the new skills needed, the second priority linked to the first priority must be training and education for the women of our country.

That is how it came about that the programme speaks so concretely about political education, academic education, social education, skills training and leadership training.

Comrades, our party and government certainly want to give our total support to his new formulation and analysis.

It is our confident expectation that over the next few years, we will wipe out unemployment in our country, but in order to do that in a fully productive way, we must ensure that as the new jobs are created, our people have the necessary skills to take up those new jobs.

The more than 23,000 people before the Revolution who were out of work has now become 5,600, 4,000 of them being women, the vast majority of whom do not have primary school leaving certificates or special skills or training for most jobs.

But while, on the one hand, that is the reality facing us, on the other hand, the needs of the economy are very different.

We estimate, for example, that in agriculture 2,500 jobs are likely to be created over the next three years – jobs for tractor drivers, soil scientists, farm managers, agricultural economists, accountants, co-operative farmers, extension officers and so on; jobs that demand skills for the modernized agriculture that we are in the process of building.

It is the same in construction, comrades.

The 2,000 new jobs we expect to be created in construction over the next three years will require plumbers, electricians, masons, carpenters, painters, architects, mechanics, surveyors, soil testers, engineers, and so on.

But the most cursory examination will show that most of the unemployed women today do not now have the necessary skills or training to take up these jobs.

It is not far different in tourism where at least another 500 jobs should be created in the next three years, particularly when the new international airport and new hotels and restaurants come on stream.

And again, these new jobs will all require a certain measure of skill.

With our industrial expansion too, we will be looking for people who can not only read and write, but who also have the ability to use modern equipment and technology.

In all areas, therefore, it is quite clear that the answer is no longer to simply say that if we find jobs for the unemployed then the problem is over because the question that will increasingly remain is what kind of jobs and what kind of skills.

Therefore, comrades, if we are to scientifically prepare for the future, it must be correct that our main priority must be to provide the appropriate training and education for those still unemployed in order to ensure that they are able to take up the jobs once they come on stream.

And there are other examples of how the draft programme was affected by thorough discussion.

Another analysis was made by the sisters which I think is extremely important.

They said that even if the training is provided, we will still have the problem that many of those unemployed sisters have children, and most of them do not have the means to hire help to look after the children, and many cannot get voluntary help, and therefore the question of the day care centres and pre=primary and nursery facilities also became major issues.

When they analysed the question in detail, they discovered that it was not just about the number of jobs and the type of training required for those jobs, but also about where the children would be put when those sisters take up jobs for the first time in their lives.

And the answer to that question is not easy.

The sisters, therefore, concluded correctly that because day care centres are very expensive, they would have to better maintain those that we have.

They would have to put more voluntary labour into maintaining the existing plant.

They are pointing out, secondly, that one way in which we can ensure that we build more day care centres is if the furniture and toys required for the existing ones are built by the women of our country on a voluntary basis.

They are pointing out, thirdly, that in order for those we have to continue operating and for more to come on stream, the women must give of their time voluntarily in order to look after the children in the day care centres.

Furthermore, they are pointing out that it is critically important to expand and deepen their international work and through this means week ways of receiving internationalist assistance in the form of equipment and materials for the construction and equipping of these centres.

COLLECTIVE INPUT AND WISDOM

The point is, comrades, that out of the discussions a very concrete analysis resulted and its concreteness shows that a realistic approach is being taken to this question of day care facilities.

The democratic discussions have led to a more elaborate and concrete document and one that is much more valuable because it reflects the collective input and wisdom of all NWO members.

Also, as a result of the discussions, more concrete ideas have come up with regards to legal reform, the solution of social problems, price control, culture and sports, all areas where women face problems.

In fact, as the result of a national survey among 700 NWO members, a debate that was going on for some time within the organisation was finally answered.

This survey established that the women of the NWO also wanted to be involved in sporting activities.

And this in turn led to a decision that from next year and over the next three years, NWO will give high priority to organising sporting activities for the women of our country.

And I feel that too is very important for our women.

The discussions also revealed that a number of the problems faced by the organisation are problems which can be solved by the women themselves.

They identified, for example, a shortage of quality full-time workers for NWO organising work.

And one of their creative solutions to this problem is the proposal to develop new committee structures at the national parish and group levels.

At the national level, the approach will be not just to rely, as they had done in the past, on the members of the national executive who are greatly overworked, but to develop instead a number of national committees with a national executive member leading each committee.

At the parish level, the idea is not just to rely on the parish executive members of the NWO, but also to have those members develop and lead a number of parish committees that would share the work.

And at the group level to develop group Committees, also aimed at diversifying and sharing the work, among more sisters.

As to the problem of inactive members, a problem faced by all organisation that have grown large, where you discover that very often it is a minority of women who are every day engaged in concrete work, he way in which our NWO sisters have handled this problem is to recognise that inactivity very often relates to a lack of interesting activities and a sufficiently exciting programme, and therefore, ultimately, it relates to a lack of effective leadership at the group level.

PROPOSED TRAINING COURSES

Their proposed solution to this problem is to develop three new types of training in order to train the new political leadership at the middle and base level, the cadres required to get the groups going with vibrancy and active participation of all members.

One of these training courses will concentrate on political education talks where every month, 12 members of each group will be singled out and a political education talk will be given along with a written hand-out, after which it will be the responsibility of these 12 sisters to take this knowledge back to their groups.

A second method of training will be a two-hour leadership training programme every fortnight, over a three-month period.

And, finally, a third method will be a combined political education and leadership training course over six months, utilising one weekend in every month.

I have absolutely no doubt, comrades, that if this programme is maintained with its correct emphasis on political education and leadership training then by June of next year already we would have seen a tremendous impact on the quality of work, and on the level of organisation within the NWO.

EXPANSION OF OUR WOMEN’S HUMAN RIGHTS

Comrades, we see all this activity over the last few months, all this discussion as being genuine democracy, as being the way in which real democratic participation should take place.

We see this as being a real expansion of the human rights of our women.

In many other ways, the NWO and the Revolution have expanded the human rights of the women of our country.

The equal pay for equal work decree was an expansion of human rights.

The prohibition of sexual exploitation by men in return for jobs was also a new human right.

The Maternity Leave Law [No. 53 of October 1980] [see People’s Laws 1980] which stipulates that for three months during and just after pregnancy that women are entitled to such leave, and are entitled to have their jobs back at the end of such pregnancy, that too was another real expansion of the human rights of our women.

The Community Health Brigades that the women have been developing in order to improve the health conditions of their families and themselves are, too, an expansion of the human rights of our sisters.

The benefits received together with other workers, through the National Transport Service, the Rent Law, the increased workmen’s compensation, the Third Party Insurance law which ensures that buses must now be insured for at least $100,000 so that in the event of an accident there will be reasonable compensation for the family, he free milk programme, the housing repair programme – all of these programmes which the women, together with the men of our country, have benefitted from are, in our view, real expansions of the human rights that the women of our country have been able to enjoy for the first time.

NEW CLASS FORMATIONS

I want to focus for a while on the question of jobs, looking at this question in the context of the growth, the role and the importance of the working class women of our country.

Obviously, the more workers that come into the workforce, the greater should be our production.

The speed at which we can bring more workers into production will help to determine the pace at which we can make the transition from the path of socialist orientation to that of socialist construction in our country.

As more and more women come in from the working class and assume positions of leadership in the National Women’s Organisation, and receive scientific training as leaders, then more and more the new working class that develops will be a more mature, more class-conscious and more organised working class.

So this question of the expansion of the women workers in our country is really a very, very important question for us here in Grenada.

We have done an analysis of 275 of the 300 plus delegates who are attending this Congress.

A poll was done of these sisters and they were asked to answer a questionnaire with various options like where they are working, how long they have been working here, their social class background and that of their families and so on.

And from this analysis, we have been able to discover that of the 275 delegates who were polled, 180 of them were employed in one way or the other, and of this 180, 67% of them were members of the working class, the rural working class or they are NWO part-time and full-time workers.

From the urban and rural working class, there are 91 delegates in that figure of 180 who are employed.

That is 50.5% of all of the employed delegates are from the urban and rural working class.

Add to this 30 more delegates who are NWO part-time and full-time workers (16.5% of the total) and we have a grand total of 121 of these sisters coming directly from the working class or 67% of all of the delegates who are present.

Now that is a highly significant development.

These figures are extremely revealing because they confirm a number of things which we have been thinking more and more about.

They confirm first of all that the economy has, in fact, been growing, something that has been independently established by the World Bank, among others.

They confirm, too, that many more jobs have been created for our unemployed people, particularly our women, and most of all they confirm the development of new class formations in our country.

If we compare the social class background of the mothers of these delegates with their own, you begin to see how important these figures are.

Because what these figures also show is that over one quarter of all the mothers of these delegates are housewives as opposed to only 4.7% of the delegates themselves being housewives; that only 29.8% of their mothers were working class as compared to 67% of the delegates being working class and that only 2.2% of the mothers were intellectual workers as compared to fully 25% of the delegates being intellectual workers.

In one short generation, we are able already to see a very fundamental change and development taking place in the overall class formations in our country and in particular, the working class.

The development of the working class carries the tremendous implications for increasing production and for building the new society.

Comrades, I want to end on a point that was raised by your comrade President – the question of the internationalist work that our women have to do and the critical question of peace.

Women, just as men, and perhaps women even more than men, because women are the child bearers, have a great responsibility to ensure peace.

We believe the NWO has, in fact, begun to assume more of its internationalist responsibilities.

More and more solidarity days are being held with different struggling peoples.

More and more political education talks are being given.

More and more members of the NWO are members of the Grenada Peace Council.

For example, Comrade Claudette Pitt, International Relations Secretary of the NWO is an executive member of the Grenada Peace Council.

The NWO is a member of the Women’s International Democratic Federation [WIDF], the largest and most progressive international women’s organisation.

The President of the NWO, Comrade Phyllis Coard, is a member of the Continental Women’s Front Against Aggression, and earlier this year a National Solidarity Campaign with the peoples of El Salvador, Namibia and Angola organised by the NWO, commanded a lot of enthusiasm and received a lot of support from our  people.

In fact, $8,000 were raised for the struggling freedom fighters in El Salvador and 500 boxes of clothing were sent to the refugees of Angola and Namibia.

It is our view in the party and government that this work has to be deepened and strengthened because it is extremely important for the women of our country.

It is important because the National Women’s Organisation wants progress and happiness for all of its members.

It wants security, progressive development and long life for the children of our country.

But all of this cannot come about in the context of an unstable peace, where threats are being made against our process and other revolutionary processes, where tension prevails in the region.

Therefore, peace is the first requirement to ensure these objective needs are met.

WHAT DEVELOPMENT REALLY MEANS

If we look at this question in terms of development, we can say that development implies a growing economy, more jobs for the people, more benefits in the areas of education, health care, housing, water and food.

Development means more infrastructure for the country; physical infrastructure like the international airport, the main roads, the feeder roads, the new telephone plant, the new electricity generators and so on.

Developing also means the social infrastructure where we can emphasise health and education; the struggle where we have the democratic organs that allow our people to participate in running the country; the economic infrastructure where we have the planning mechanisms, the military infrastructure where we are developing a strong armed forces based, in particular, on the people through their militia.

But all of these aspects of infrastructure are really very important when finally compared to the most important aspect of infrastructure – the peace aspect.

Because if we don’t have peace, if world war descends tomorrow on mankind, it would not greatly matter what work we’ve done on the physical, the social, the political, the economic or the military infrastructure.

In the final analysis, all of those infrastructures could get wiped out in a few seconds.

THE CRITICAL IMPORTANCE OF WORLD PEACE

And that is why it is so important for us to ensure that the women of our country concentrate in practice on raising the consciousness of all of our people on the critical importance of world peace, on the need to end the arms race, on the importance of disarmament and détente, on the need to ensure that those people who are manufacturing neutron bombs are completely exposed, on the need to support the people of the Soviet Union on their public declaration that they will never be the first to use nuclear arms.

We need to support the Soviet Union and other socialist world countries in the tireless efforts which they have been making to promote the concept of peaceful co-existence, a concept developed by Lenin many years ago, a concept which was continued and developed even further by the late Leonid Ilych Brezhnev, another foremost champion and stalwart for peace.

We need, in practice, to get the women in our NWO to understand the importance of having this Caribbean declared a Zone of Peace, Independence and Development.

They must understand that such a declaration means an end to military basis set up without the consent of the people in a particular country; an end to aggressive military manoeuvres that threaten the peace of the region; an end to the use of mercenaries against other people’s processes, the right of all peoples to build their own process in their own way, after their own image and likeness, free from all forms of outside dictation, free from all threats, free from the big stick.

This must be something that is concrete in the minds of our women.

Because, if we are able to get these aspects of the Zone of Peace principle accepted in practice, think of what it would mean for Cuba, for Nicaragua, for the revolutionary process in Suriname, and for our own revolution in Grenada.

REAL NECESSITIES FOR THE PRESENT

We have to begin to see these concepts not as abstraction, but as real necessities that the present period demands.

Establishing a Zone of Peace, Independence and Development means guaranteeing the right of all colonial peoples to become full independent and free.

If that was fully accepted think of what it would mean for the patriots of Puerto Rico who are today still fighting for their independence.

If the right of a people to shake off oligarchs and dictators, as part of their right to self-determination were accepted, think of what it would mean for the peoples of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, people fighting against military and other dictatorships who, although oppressed yet, see tremendous support being given to their oppressors by the United States, in particular.

Think of what it would mean for us if this Zone of Peace declaration really became accepted in practice and put an end once and for all to all forms of propaganda destabilisation, economic aggression and destabilisation, political and diplomatic isolation, military threats and the use of military force against any other country.

Think of what that would mean for the prospects and possibilities of peaceful and progressive development for all of our people in Grenada!

So, comrades, this question of peace, of getting to understand more and more what is meant by the Zone of Peace of getting the women in the NWO to really internalize all of its concepts and begin to speak more and more to our people about its concepts and begin to speak more and more to our people about its importance is something that we can never underestimate.

IMPORTANCE OF IDEOLOGICAL PLURALISM

Linked to the Zone of Peace is the important question of ideological pluralism.

What this concept of ideological pluralism really says is that everybody has a right to choose their own way of developing their own country, that everybody has the right to decide their own social, economic, cultural and political forms, and to develop their countries in their way.

A major struggle is still being waged to get these concepts accepted.

The recent CARICOM Head of Government meeting was a classic example of the difficulties of getting these concepts accepted because there were people at that conference who were opposed to these fundamental principles.

And some of these people having been exposed before public opinion in the Caribbean are now pretending that they never had any disagreement, and that Grenada is making up something on them.

But as all of our people know, comrades, we in the People’s Revolutionary Government and the New Jewel Movement never tell lies.

We rely only on the facts and the truth.

Some of these elements today are trying to get some of their friends in the so-called free press to pretend that at the conference the question of a Zone of Peace and of ideological pluralism (and I expect that soon they will add the question of the University of the West Indies) were never discussed.

But the fact is that these matters were discussed, and it is important for the people of Grenada and the people of the region to insist that all of their representatives make a public stand on these critical questions.

The people have a right to know where their leaders stand on this question of a Zone of Peace and the right of all people to develop their own countries in their own way.

This kind of exposure, therefore, must be done.

We certainly continue to say in Grenada: yes, to the Zone of Paces, yes, to the principle of ideological pluralism, yes, to the need to keep the University of the West Indies as a regional institution, and we have no doubt that all of our people, all of our workers, farmers, youth and women will fight for these principles.

We know that our people will reject all attempts at ducking and covering up.

We know that our people are going to insist that our party and government continue to demand that the Caribbean, in fact, is declared a Zone of Peace.

We are confident that our people, and among them, our women will continue to support the just struggles of the peoples of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Haiti and Chile.

Our people will continue to support the revolutionary processes going forward in Cuba, Nicaragua and Suriname, will continue to give our fullest support to the fighting people of Mozambique and Angola who are today facing the threat of direct invasion from South Africa, will continue to support the people of Palestine in their just claim for their own territory, will continue to support the people of East Timor, the people of the Western Sahara, the people of Namibia, the people of South Africa and all of the national liberation movements around the world fighting for peace, independence, justice and social progress for their people.

We have absolutely no doubt that the free, fighting women of revolutionary Grenada with pens in their hands when necessary, with machine and tractors when necessary, with cutlasses and forks when necessary, with their organs of people’s power then necessary, and with their guns when necessary – will fight to safeguard our revolution, to build it and push it forward.

CONFIDENCE IN OUR HEROIC WOMEN

We know that we can rely with the greatest of confidence on the heroic fighting women of Grenada.

We know we can rely on them to safeguard and defend every nutmeg pod in our country, every cocoa tree in our country, every single sapodilla in our country and the grains of hair on the heads of all the elderly and young people in our country.

Today, we salute the National Women’s Organisation and their First Congress.

We salute the work of our women over the years in production – our women agricultural workers, our women farmers, our women construction workers, our women in co-operatives and our women teachers.

We salute the tremendous work the Ministry of Education and Women’s Affairs has played over the years, and in particular, the role which has been played by Comrade Jacqueline Creft as Minister of Education.

Today, we salute the creation of the new Ministry of Women’s Affairs for the first time in the history of our country and the history of the English-speaking Caribbean.

We also salute the outstanding leaders of the NWO for their tremendous courage, discipline, dedication and self-sacrifice.

We commend them for their outstanding organisational qualities, for the scientific work which they have done over the months and years to ensure that the NWO is today what it is.

And, in particular, we salute the tremendous work that has been done by Comrade Phyllis Coard, the President of the National Women’s Organisation.

We salute today, comrades, the memory of Edith McBain, of Scotilda, of Laurice, Laureen and Bernadette, and so many unknown and unsung martyrs and heroes who died in the cause of justice and freedom over the years.

Today, we are confident that the National Women’s Organisation will go forward with the tasks which you have set, that you will continue to make progress in production, education and training; that the priorities which you have set in political education, skills training and academic education through the CPE will be followed; that the internationalist work which you have outlined for yourselves will strengthen your responsibilities not only to the Grenada Revolution, but to the world revolutionary process and to the struggle for peace and progress and against imperialism.

We are confident that our women in the fighting NWO, conscious of their duties, will go forward and will carry out these historic tasks.


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