by Ruth Parris
Chief Commissioner – Barbados
Our messages for World Thinking Day 2013 are: “Together we can save children’s lives” and “Every mother’s life and health is precious”. MDG 4 and 5 are closely linked and both are key issues affecting girls and young women around the world.
However, in Barbados, the basis for these particular goals may not necessarily be pressing, but we must be cognisant that there are girls and young women all over the world who live with and face these challenges.
This is because in Barbados we are fortunate that successive Governments have ensured that we are cared for through the Health and Social systems that are available in the nation.
This system is unique in that if you cannot afford to pay for the necessary health and/or social care, then you can access help through the various agencies within the country.
As we think about our sisters throughout the world every day, but especially today there is a totally different picture:
* Here, in Barbados, the child mortality rate is less than one per cent, while in some countries child mortality is at an all time high, with children dying due to not having basic health requirements, such as clean running water, access to nutritious food, sometimes not even food at all, and basic immunisation against childhood and other diseases such as malaria.
Another area we can look at is that of water, for instance. We are deemed a water scarce country, but we still continue to waste and contaminate water, whereas in some countries people still don’t have clean, running water.
* Professor Timothy Roach stated recently that within the last three years, no child in Barbados was born HIV positive, that is remarkable because we all know that the Caribbean has the second highest HIV/AIDS rate in the world, falling behind Sub-Saharan Africa.
This achievement is due to the screening of all pregnant women for HIV, and if positive the mother and child are treated throughout the pregnancy and after birth the child receives periodic testing to ensure all is well. How many other countries in the world can boast of this?
The reason why there are so many AIDS orphans in the world today, especially in Africa, is due mainly to the lack of medication and/or routine testing of at risk groups.
* In Barbados, issues such as rape and abuse of women and children are criminal offences, however, elsewhere in the world, some women and children are victimised because they are female and are thought of as second class citizens.
We must take our 95th anniversary theme of Save the Girl, Save the World, seriously and consider our responsibility as members of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts.
When we realise and accept this responsibility we must live up to the expectations of the same and should we falter in the execution, we must be brave enough to step out and ask for help, so that the ultimate goal and responsibility of developing girls and young women to their fullest potential is met.
Blossoms, Brownies, Guides, Rangers and Young Leaders, you too have a role to play, even at your level. Responsibility is the hallmark of our Association. This is seen through the Patrol System, where you begin your responsibility of working within groups and by extension your community.
As a Patrol Leader or even Seconder and as a Sixer or Seconder, you have the great responsibility of meeting the needs and sharing with your Patrol or Six, You have to be able to communicate with each other and your leaders. YOU can do this through our slogan “Each One, Reach One”. We must always continue to be our sister’s keeper, not only in Barbados, but at the Caribbean Link level, Western Hemisphere and of course WAGGGS.
“Investing in health of women and children has been increasingly recognised as a basis for sustainable development and one of the most effective ways to achieve all MDGs.” — Purnima Mane, UNFPA Deputy Executive Director