FORMER Governor General Dame Marguerite Pindling was the keynote speaker at the first Exuma Women’s Wellness and Empowerment Summit, where she urged those attending to become more involved in the development of the country.
The event was held on Tuesday, March 1, at Blu on the Water Restaurant and Bar.
The brainchild of Cecillia Cooper, wife of Deputy Prime Minister Chester Cooper, Samantha Maycock-Wong Sang and Marsha Musgrove, the summit attracted presenters with a common message of support and empowerment.
Mrs Cooper said the event’s mission was “a deliberate meeting of the minds” to cause something to happen for women and girls in Exuma.
“So let’s help make waves to build up one another and our country,” she said.
In her address Dame Marguerite shared her connection to Exuma, by way of her father who was born at Jolly Hall.
She also shared her journey from humble beginnings.
“Not so long ago, I married a young London trained barrister named Lynden Pindling on the 5th day of May 1956. Then, on the 8th day of June 1956, he was elected to the honourable House of Assembly and was a junior member for the southern district of New Providence.
“So, you see, my married and political life happened all at the same time. That’s when I made my entrance on the political stage as a young 24-year-old bride, not knowing what was ahead of me, but I learnt fast; I had no choice.
“My point is, it doesn’t matter where you start; it’s how you finish,” she said.
Having no formal training, she said she has “a master’s degree in common sense” and quoted her husband as saying, “book sense without common sense is nonsense.”
Soon to be 90 in June, Dame Marguerite said she’s had time to reflect on her life’s journey.
“I am proud of the work my husband and I accomplished. I have surpassed any and all expectations that I may have had on where my life would have taken me. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think it was possible. That is why I said earlier: it’s not how you start, it’s the journey and how you finish. To all young Bahamian women, what has happened to me can happen to you,” she said.
According to Dame Marguerite, there is a wisdom given to women, “perhaps because we are life bearers; for we are able to know and discern problems and find solutions without them being taught to us.”
She said that The Bahamas needs women to assume more active roles in the country’s political, economic, and social development, and on the international stage.
“Ladies, you must not underestimate your role and value in any national struggle. It was all right then for us women to be afraid, very afraid, but inaction was never an option,” she said.
She further urged women to be comfortable being an inspiration and a troublemaker – but “good trouble” as the late US civil rights fighter John Lewis would say.
Dame Marguerite pointed out that at every stage of a country’s development, the involvement of its people is essential, especially that of the women.
“Women of my generation were tough, strong and hard workers. Our passion fueled our determination to achieve a better way of life. Some of you are successful products of that passion, that determination,” she said.
However, times have changed, she noted, and the passion that fueled some of the country’s greatest women warriors have gone.
Sadly, she added, young women today are fighting a different battle of abuse and depression and feeling unloved and uncared for.
“With a renewed passion and love in our hearts, I ask you to support one another, band together as one group. Together, you can do many things to bring about change,” said Dame Marguerite.
Other presenters were: Marsha Musgrove, owner of Exuma Hair Beauty Supplies; Dr Novia Carter-Lookie, clinic director of the Children Advocacy Clinic at The Bahamas Crisis Centre; and Samantha Wong-Sang, co-founder and CEO of Blu on the Water Restaurant and Bar.