MINISTER HUGHES ADDRESSED OUTSTANDING MOTHERS AT ANNUAL BERNICE MANSELL FOUNDATION AWARDS
MINISTRY OF PUBLIC TELECOMMUNICATIONS
At the beginning of the 20th Century, people in this part of the world, more specifically in the United States, began to celebrate Mother’s Day after one woman from West Virginia (her name was Anna Jarvis) held a memorial at church for her Mother who had just passed away. After that, around 1908, she began to campaign for a day called Mother’s Day to be recognized as a public holiday.
Naturally, the men who made up the US Congress in 1908 did not like the idea at all so they turned down the petition, but it had already gained sufficient momentum. People from all walks of life just wanted to set aside one day to honour “the person who had done more for them than anyone else in the world”.
And so the Mother’s Day ‘movement’ was born, but like everything else, it was later commercialized. Hallmark Company began selling Mother’s Day cards and gift items in 1920 and the rest of the world followed suit.
But I’m sure you’ve heard your fathers, husbands or grandfathers complain that on Father’s Day they don’t receive half the amount of attention, love and thoughtfulness from their children as their wives do. Well, the point is that a woman has the capacity to nurture everybody else’s children. It’s in our psychological and emotional strength; our ability to find solutions to the toughest challenges; and how we can smile even when things are not going well. These are only some of the things that attract all that love and gratitude.
And please let your menfolk know that these are the reasons why they love us too.
But truth be told, these attributes that make us who and what we are as women, were taught to us directly and indirectly by the people who raised us. Since we were little girls we learnt that this is the very essence of womanhood, and later of motherhood. Our society has thrived for a very long time on the pillars of love, respect and genuine care for our mothers, wives, girlfriends, sisters, grandmothers, aunts, cousins …
Now, I don’t meant to throw a damper on this happy day, but we cannot shut out that part of our reality that flies in the face of who we are as a nation. I’m talking about the brutishness and insensitivity that have crept into our social experiences. I know that one cause is our young people’s over-exposure to violence and unwholesome behaviours online, on TV/media and through music. But the rash of domestic violence that has been perpetrated on our most vulnerable women over the last 10 to 15 years have cost me many hours of sleep wondering how we were going to arrest this societal problem.
The Sociologists in our midst and the advocates for women’s rights have examined this disease, and they know the causes. Recent Law Enforcement statistics give us some hope, so I am going to see the glass as half full and believe that the frequency of domestic violence in Guyana is lessening slowly. There’s been some success in reducing the incidence of violence in Guyana, and this is in large measure due to the work of our women’s rights groups.
We ALL have a contribution to make here. It is time for some of us to stop saying that it is not our business when the victims are not known to us.
I believe that motherhood is the toughest job in the world. My own Mom passed away a few years ago but the things that she taught me and my siblings; the confidence and strength that she imbued in us, not only shaped our approach to life, they provided us with the platter of values on which we feed our offspring. Just like she did, we go to bat for our children, nephews and nieces. We teach them to appreciate the good things that life brings, and to recognize the things they should walk away from.
Like our Mom (and Dad) we all thrive on a keen sense of humour. We’re fortunate that she had the opportunity to experience us as adults, as mothers and aunts and uncles, and from where she is, I’m sure she’s saying, “job well done”.
While I’m aware of my good fortune to have had my life’s lessons from two wonderful parents, I also know many women who did not have this benefit but they triumphed and they’ve grown up to be the strongest, most blessed women and mothers I’ve known. I reserve my greatest respect and admiration for you.
Allow me to close by saying that some husbands and fathers are finally coming around to appreciating the hard work that goes into motherhood. Finally they admit that it is a job they DO NOT WANT. Finally they understand why our families feel the need to pamper us on Mother’s Day!
I join the renowned Bernice Mansell Foundation in this elegant salute to the six special Mothers being honoured today. We all know how challenging it is to juggle our professional and domestic responsibilities every day, and still go to work with a smile tomorrow.
Happy Mother’s Day to you all: May long life and good health be yours!
Hon. Catherine Hughes