(Excerpts of Dr. Friday’s Address to the Women’s Arm Convention)
The work of the women’s arm is critically important to our Party and to our country. Over the years, the Women’s Arm has contributed immeasurably to the effectiveness and appeal of the NDP. It has conducted national programs for children and youth, raised funds for various causes, and has always been a strong advocate for women both in the party and nationally.
In the various constituencies, the local branches–where they exist– have been doing likewise. We must continue to strengthen both the national body and the branches so that they might do even more. Let all of us here resolve to do that.
I am truly grateful for all that the women’s arm has done and continues to do. I appreciate the effort and sacrifice it demands of you—of all of us—and your commitment to carry on. Thank you for staying the course. You have shown the true spirit of caring and embracing that has helped our party to remain an essential part of the lives of the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. We simply could not have become the relevant and vibrant party we are today without the work of the women of our party. We must, therefore, do all we can to ensure that the vital role of the Women’s Arm not only continues but flourishes. We must ensure that the Women’s Arm remains a formidable force for good and for positive change, now and forever.
Today, we are proving once more that the New Democratic Party is not the fleeting fancy or personal conveyance of any one or two individuals, but a durable and well-founded institution whose mission transcends the individual and the personal. In sum, what we are doing today, and have done over our long and proud history in the Women’s Arm and the party overall, is the on-going work of building a truly national institution that is concerned with not merely the attainment of political power, but with the transformation of our country. Not power for power’s sake but for what it can do for our country!
We have long now set ourselves the great tasks of building our nation and making life better for our people. We do not underestimate the enormity of these tasks, for our eyes are wide open. Neither do we shy away from it or shirk our great responsibility, for our hearts are stout and our bodies strong. Building a prosperous country on the principles of democracy and the rule of law, with a commitment to sharing fairly the wealth and opportunities we create is a lofty goal, but we can reach it. Therefore, we must always set it before us and move steadfastly towards it.
We must not settle for less, for to do so would diminish our accomplishments and show little faith in our future. That is not what we are about. We are better than that and can do great things. Remember, we the NDP have a proud history of such accomplishments and of steadfastness in the pursuit of noble ideals. But we must not rest on these past achievements; rather we must redouble our efforts and strengthen our resolve to do even better in the future. To go farther and faster!
We must believe that our best as a political party, that your best as the Women’s Arm of the NDP, is yet to come and no matter the obstacles we meet, no matter the dark clouds that may from time-to-time obscure the horizon, we must continue to believe in the depths of our hearts that the same is true for our beloved nation. Our best days are ahead of us. Never doubt that this is true.
Right now, however, our country is in dire need of healing and corrective change. Present conditions show us that the work we do is more important than ever. We see this in the rising cost of living, with no relief in sight from a government that cares more for image than for substance: all talk and no aid for ordinary people.
We see it in the increasing number of killings and other serious crimes that have taken more than lives and possessions from us; that have robbed us of our peace of mind and sense of security. Meanwhile, the Police and the Government show daily that they have no plan to deal with the problem. Their failure to respond as needed has eroded public confidence in the criminal justice system, which further inhibits national development.
The infrastructure throughout the country- roads, bridges, backwalls and buildings have descended into disrepair and disuse because of neglect and a lack of planning for repairs and improvement. The ULP government’s approach appears to be: ‘wait till it mash up completely, before they try to fix it.’ Meanwhile, all of us continue to suffer. Van drivers and other motorists pay a high price with damaged vehicles and blown tires; school children suffer from run down school buildings; and most of our people see the quality of their lives made worse by poor and broken down public facilities.
Our hospitals and clinics are also in poor condition. They lack basic medical supplies and equipment. There are chronic shortages of bandages and medicines like pressure and sugar tablets. Life-saving machines are rendered useless by poor maintenance. Our healthcare professionals are forced to make do with what little they have as they look after those in need of medical care; those who cannot go elsewhere for treatment.
And, the education system is failing our young people and jeopardizing our nation’s future. Far too many of our children drop out of school with no prospect for employment or a brighter future. Yet, those in power satisfy themselves with labels and slogans that mask these problems and make things worse.