Sunday, February 19, 2012

The modern Caribbean woman -- she is every woman; a phenomenal woman; and a woman of class and stature

Who is the modern Caribbean woman?

By Julie Charles

Although she is born and bred in steep tradition filled with a rich culture and heritage, there is much that the Caribbean woman carries on her platter. Should she be a mother, wife, daughter, sister, aunt, friend, modern day professional, and the defender of her culture or is her role one of revolutionising the expectations?

Julie Charles holds a bachelor of business administration degree in consumer behaviour and marketing research from Bernard Baruch College in New York and is the marketing and human resource manager of the St Kitts Co-operative Credit Union. In her spare time, she gives presentations to parents and children about teen sexuality, as well as HIV/AIDS and woman empowerment. She works closely with the Ministry of Gender Affairs assisting the Teen Mother Program.Today’s Caribbean woman has evolved into a superwoman, carrying the burdens of society on her shoulders much like her ancestors did before her but with additional responsibilities. She is a decision maker in government, head of financial institutions, and CEO of mighty conglomerates, yet still she is expected to be wife and mother, friend and counsellor, spiritual guide and all around guru for all that ails the nations.

Can she really fulfil this enormous task? She already has with her, strength and intelligence, mixed with good old fashion common sense. She has forged ahead while her other worldly counterparts are still wondering where to begin.

How does she accomplish so much, yet able to raise a nation? Simply by allowing the wisdom of the mother, grandmother, aunts, and other elders filter through her. She understands fully that she is nothing without her heritage or her ancestors. She infuses what she knows with what she continues to learn and makes her decisions. She then monitors the situation until a better solution can be found and then she implements. She appears fearless when it comes to living and, although fear is necessary to remain alert, she understands that fear is a healthy emotion and uses it wisely.

Can she stand the test of time? Not only can she stand the test but she can pass with flying colours. Why? Because her character is made of strongest steel, her mind is as sharp as the sharpest cutlass, her body is well taken care of and her spirit is the core of who she really is. Her spirit is resilient, no matter the obstacles. It is constantly fed by her beliefs, which were ingrained in her as a child but has carried her through to womanhood. She is indeed invincible, for no matter the situation or circumstance, the modern Caribbean woman does not falter. She may buckle but she does not fall.

Am I only speaking of a professional woman? No, this refers to all Caribbean women, as they are special women found nowhere else in the world. They are all shades of brown and black, they are of many different shapes, they are from many backgrounds but one thing makes them unique and that is they are uniquely Caribbean. Their skin bathed by the warm Caribbean sun, their eyelashes brushed by the Caribbean breeze, and their hearts warmed by the love of their country.

Caribbean women for many years carried the weight of their communities on their shoulders and it was a responsibility that they readily accepted. They were able to shape the society and teach boys how to become men. This mantle has now been passed on to the modern Caribbean woman. She has to fulfil all that is expected of her.

The expectations are:

• She is to raise her children to be meaningful contributing adults
• She is to ensure that her husband is taken care of
• She is to take care of her aging parents and relatives
• She is expected to be a good friend and confidant
• She is expected to excel at her job whatever it may be – from office attendant to prime minister
• She is expect to continue learning no matter the format
• She is expected to volunteer of her time and resources to ensure that her community remains healthy and safe
• Her spiritual life must be healthy so that she can provide guidance to those in need
• She is expected to take care of her health so that she does not inherit those known Caribbean diseases should as hypertension, diabetes, and most recently HIV/AIDS
• Finally, she is expected to have some fun through music and dance. It was embedded in her to enjoy the riddims of the drums and ring out in all Caribbean music.

The modern Caribbean woman is a woman who is light years ahead of her time. She is a pepper pot of modern day teachings with old people sayings. She loves fully and is not afraid or ashamed to show it. Her beliefs have been instilled in her as a child and they have not departed but rather, they have gotten stronger with each passing day. She knows that modern technology has its place in her world, but she will never forsake her old teachings and remedies. She is an eclectic mix of the old and the new worlds.

The modern Caribbean woman -- she is every woman; a phenomenal woman; and a woman of class and stature.

February 18, 2012