Parliamentary Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office, Senator Irene Sandiford-Garner, and Second Vice Chairman of the General Assembly of the Church of God, Rev. Josiah Jones,??join??in?? the hymn singing at the Church of God’s celebrations.??

Women must prepare themselves to take a leadership role to help ride out the global crisis and create a better world.

Parliamentary Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office, Senator Irene Sandiford-Garner, issued this challenge yesterday, as she addressed the 25th anniversary celebrations of the Regional Women’s Organisation of the Church of God.

"Women have to step up to the plate and let their voices be heard. For too long we have heard that men are in crisis. That is true, but at the same time, women are still intimidated and prevented from taking a leadership role," Senator Sandiford-Garner said.

Touching on the issue of gender discrimination, the Parliamentary Secretary noted that "even though the majority of voters were women, only 10 per cent of the elected representatives were female".

"Even though 60 per cent of university students are female, very few of the higher positions in religious and economic institutions are held by women. At the same time, the majority of our children are brought up in female-headed households. The political reality is that this situation will not change, unless women overcome their fear and show real leadership by intensifying the movement for the liberation of women," she proclaimed.

The Senator reminded her audience that the world was caught up in the midst of a global, regional, national and communal crisis, which was often referred to as an economic crisis, but, she stressed "it was bigger than that".

She pointed out that increasing numbers of the poor, particularly women and young people were resorting to immoral and criminal activities in order to survive. She indicated that if this was allowed to continue, unchecked, that it could "destroy the moral and social fabric of our societies" and "lead to serious political consequences".

Mrs. Sandiford-Garner warned: "Women should no longer sit by and allow another generation of our children to fall victim to cultural penetration and pressure."

Remarking that the church had to become the vehicle for change, she said: "On the one hand, you have the moral authority to campaign for the rights of women. On the other hand, you have the unity and infrastructure for mobilising support among women and enlightened men."

She pledged Government’s support for any programme that targeted the vulnerable members of the society and brought them benefits and praised the organisation for its excellent work in Barbados and throughout the region, in particular its outreach programmes for women and children. These would ensure that succeeding generations of young Barbadians are exposed to the moral values essential for the well-being of our society.

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