A Peach of a time! Montserrat Women’s Festival 2018

Dr. Clarice Barnes

    By Dr. Vernie Clarice Barnes

 January 7th 2018, one day beyond the last day of Christmas, the festivities are over but not quite so for the women who joined Brenda Perkins (Peaches) in an exclusively women last lap at the Good Life Night Club.  Approximately one hundred and fifty (150) elegantly dressed women of all ages   spent time relaxing, playing games, discussing, eating and drinking the best.  This “Women’s  Festival” has been happening for eight years and is the brainchild of Peaches who recognised that women needed this retreat after working hard to make Christmas and the Festival enjoyable for their families and the community. Coincidentally, a similar activity (Women’s Christmas) is held in Ireland around this time. It began in rural communities but has now spread to the cities, USA and the UK where Irish people have settled. It is gaining popularity as a well deserved bonus for women.

I attended the “Women’s Festival” for the first time this year and found it to be impressive.  I was particularly impressed by the discussion of Women’s views of Montserrat Culture, Christmas and the Festival. Mrs. Cynthia Dyett did an excellent job of facilitating wide participation.  Women spoke passionately on issues of the meaning of Festival, participation, cultural transfer and women’s role in processes that will ensure the sustainability of the Montserrat culture and Festival. Perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary with responsibility for Festivals might consider adding the “Women’s Festival” in his growing list of Montserrat festivities that he perceives to be of importance to development.  I hasten to suggest that a summary of the issues discussed might prove useful to the Festival Committee.

The Honourable Minister with responsibility for Gender Affairs, Mrs. Delmaude Ryan was in the gathering. She spoke of the need for Diasporic Montserratians to join hands with locals to improve participation in Festival.  This is a significant call given that most participants in adult troupes and bands are women. Montserrat is not known for active women’s groups comparative to the activism found elsewhere in the Region.  It has no visible Women’s Desk, No National Organisation of Women; indeed no national machinery for promoting women’s affairs outside of the Social Services. Montserrat stands alone in the region in this regard. I know that we gathered as women for food, relaxation and fun but from the time the gathering chose to enter into a discussion of a current issue serious business relating to women and Montserrat had to emerge.  This event is clearly a great rallying ground for women. 

Applauds are due Peaches and her team which includes Mrs Petronella Browne and Miss Maureen Phillips for sensitively facilitating a successful Peach of a time.

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Dr. Clarice Barnes

    By Dr. Vernie Clarice Barnes

 January 7th 2018, one day beyond the last day of Christmas, the festivities are over but not quite so for the women who joined Brenda Perkins (Peaches) in an exclusively women last lap at the Good Life Night Club.  Approximately one hundred and fifty (150) elegantly dressed women of all ages   spent time relaxing, playing games, discussing, eating and drinking the best.  This “Women’s  Festival” has been happening for eight years and is the brainchild of Peaches who recognised that women needed this retreat after working hard to make Christmas and the Festival enjoyable for their families and the community. Coincidentally, a similar activity (Women’s Christmas) is held in Ireland around this time. It began in rural communities but has now spread to the cities, USA and the UK where Irish people have settled. It is gaining popularity as a well deserved bonus for women.

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I attended the “Women’s Festival” for the first time this year and found it to be impressive.  I was particularly impressed by the discussion of Women’s views of Montserrat Culture, Christmas and the Festival. Mrs. Cynthia Dyett did an excellent job of facilitating wide participation.  Women spoke passionately on issues of the meaning of Festival, participation, cultural transfer and women’s role in processes that will ensure the sustainability of the Montserrat culture and Festival. Perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary with responsibility for Festivals might consider adding the “Women’s Festival” in his growing list of Montserrat festivities that he perceives to be of importance to development.  I hasten to suggest that a summary of the issues discussed might prove useful to the Festival Committee.

The Honourable Minister with responsibility for Gender Affairs, Mrs. Delmaude Ryan was in the gathering. She spoke of the need for Diasporic Montserratians to join hands with locals to improve participation in Festival.  This is a significant call given that most participants in adult troupes and bands are women. Montserrat is not known for active women’s groups comparative to the activism found elsewhere in the Region.  It has no visible Women’s Desk, No National Organisation of Women; indeed no national machinery for promoting women’s affairs outside of the Social Services. Montserrat stands alone in the region in this regard. I know that we gathered as women for food, relaxation and fun but from the time the gathering chose to enter into a discussion of a current issue serious business relating to women and Montserrat had to emerge.  This event is clearly a great rallying ground for women. 

Applauds are due Peaches and her team which includes Mrs Petronella Browne and Miss Maureen Phillips for sensitively facilitating a successful Peach of a time.