Women come together to voice concerns

  • Women’s Caucus panellists Zina Edwards, Senator Tinee Furbert and Cathy Simmons (Photograph by Owain Johnston-Barnes)

Women from across the island came together this weekend to discusses the issues affecting females on the island.

The Progressive Labour Party’s first Women’s Caucus forum drew a crowd of almost 100 concerned women to the Bermuda Industrial Union, where they spoke out about the challenges they face and how they could be addressed.

Among the issues discussed were economic disparity and healthcare, with several attendees saying that women prioritise their family members over themselves when it comes to seeking medical treatment.

One woman, who identified herself as being in the healthcare field, said: “I see a lot of women now who have lost their insurance or only have a certain level of insurance, so they save it for an emergency. Then, when an emergency comes, they find themselves in the emergency room.”

Other women in attendance called for better education about what free or inexpensive health options are available, suggesting women’s health fairs be held.

And others said more needs to be done to encourage healthy diets. One woman said that Michael Dunkley, the Premier, had received some flak for suggesting that people should grow some of their own food.

‘We should go back to farming,” she said. “We need to have our plot, we need to have our two chickens, and then we can stop buying his eggs,” she said.

PLP spokeswoman Liana Hall said that concerns and focal points raised during discussions would be used to craft a women’s caucus platform.

“We were very encouraged by the amount of women who participated in the event,” she said afterwards. “It proves that, despite our underrepresentation in many areas, the boardroom and parliament for example, how invested we are in our country.

“What became the focus of the meeting was healthcare for women and seniors, growing economic inequality and the youth in Bermuda. We discussed the lack of work available for the generation with the most experience, educating our children about Bermudian history in an effort to give them a sense of identity and empowerment and how to facilitate parents who are unable to further their education because of the limitations they face with childcare.

“But we didn’t just focus on what the government can do for us, but what we can do for each other. We focused on methods we could use to network together to create opportunities that don’t currently exist. Those with knowledge about health fairs, children’s camps and free clinics shared their experience to let us know what already exists and how we can help ourselves right now.”

She said that only women were invited to the meeting because women were frequently marginalised, and so a safer space was needed to explore issues such as sexual assault and domestic violence.

“We are not operating to the exclusion of men, but acting to ensure the inclusion of women in every facet of our society,” she said.