(Originally published in Guyana’s Stabroek News on 08 October 2011)
In 2003, a national survey of 446 women from the ten administrative
regions in Guyana was conducted by Roxanne Myers with the assistance of
UG students, on the political participation of women in Guyana. Of the
446 women surveyed, a whopping 68 per cent “felt certain they would
endorse a woman candidate.” Well, ladies, here is your chance to do
Valerie Garrido-Lowe, the new presidential candidate
and party leader for The United Force (TUF), has already faced an
attempted coup d‘état by the former party leader, Manzoor Nadir, who
this past week was on his Facebook page promoting the PPP rally this
Garrido-Lowe felt it was essential for TUF to go into the
elections without any of its previous ties to the PPP and even though
Nadir had the power and prowess of the PPP machine behind him in his
attempt to take back a position that was no longer his, Garrido-Lowe did
not shy away from this David/Goliath situation. This is one tough lady!
Garrido-Lowe has worked as a school teacher, an insurance agent, a
computer graphic designer and a contributor to Kaieteur News on health
issues. For the past 15 years, she has managed her own business. She has
also raised two children as a single mother and now has two
grandchildren as well. She has been a member of TUF for 15 years.
I met Garrido-Lowe at Unity House this past week, I just had to pick
her brain to see what kind of woman would stand up to the political
bulldogs of Guyana.
Here are some of the questions I asked Garrido-Lowe (portions of this interview have been edited for space):
Stella Ramsaroop [SR]:
I put a post on my Facebook page from a CNN report that said in part,
“Today, 18-to-34-year-old men spend more time playing video games a day
than 12-to-17-year-old boys. While women are graduating college and
finding good jobs, too many men are not going to work, not getting
married and not raising families. Women are beginning to take the place
of men in many ways.”
You (Garrido-Lowe) responded to my status by
saying, “That is why we need to support the lone woman running for
President of Guyana (that’s me!) We can do this girls… we can transform
Guyana, and when we are finished many who know it now would not
Tell me, why do you believe women should vote for a female candidate?
Valerie Garrido-Lowe [VGL]: Women are going forward, educating themselves and getting involved and doing their part. We have [had]
the two major parties in government; we had the PNC for 28 years and the
PPP for 19 years now, and although there is progress, I don’t think the
men are caring enough with things that should matter.
thing is the city. Look at the city and how dirty it is. It is our
capital city. Now as a woman, naturally, before I invite anybody into my
house I would tidy up my place and then tell that guest, ‘Welcome to my
home’. Those in government are saying we are going big into tourism, we
are inviting people to come and look at our beautiful country and our
country is so dirty. Look at the rubbish all around. And we are inviting
tourists to come and see that? Granted, you are touting eco-tourism,
great. But this is the capital city. It must look good.
are there and they do not care to clean up and they are busy going ahead
with what they think should be done for the country and they are
walking all over the piles of dirt.
[SR]: What would you say to those who say women should not vote based on gender?
Women should not necessarily vote for women, but… the circumstances we
are in now…call for a woman. I feel so, and I think women should realize
that they should come together now because look, the men have had their
chance. A simple example is [what I have mentioned about] the city, and
they are not coming up to scratch. I think we as women must not be
afraid to take over and get things done.
It’s simple, just like in
the home. A man is late with his salary or he gets fired or something
and cannot provide, what will you as a woman do? [Will you not] go and
try and find work? Or go and borrow [some money]? You do your part as a
woman, taking over that part that is not being fulfilled by the man.
Right now I feel a lot of things need to be done and since the men are not doing it, the women have to do it.
This past Monday night, I was at the vigil in front of Sharma’s station
and so were you. You spoke to those gathered there, as did Gerhard
Ramsaroop from the AFC and Rupert Roopnaraine from the APNU. Yet, I
noticed the next day in the newspapers, the others were mentioned and
you were not. How does it make you feel when the media ignore you? Do
you feel it is because you are a female candidate?
Actually, we are still trying to figure out what really is their
problem. [laughing] Some-times I think it is because I am a woman.
Sometimes I think it is because I am an Amerindian. Those two go back
It feels a bit odd. It is like I have to fight for
everything. My daughter was telling me, ‘You know, although you are
going through all this as a new politician, I am proud of you. You are
not getting it easy; therefore, you can go down in history as fighting
for something.’ That was her perspective and I looked at it and thought,
‘OK. Alright. That is a good way of viewing it.’
It can be a bit
disheartening at times, but it will take a lot to floor me because I
expect a lot of things. If I didn’t expect a lot of things, maybe I
wouldn’t be here up to now.
[SR]: What would you like to tell the women of Guyana?
I think women should realize that we are in a situation in Guyana right
now that we need to recognize that we can do a lot more than stay on
the sidelines. That we can come out and actually transform Guyana
instead of waiting for our men to do it. Once we have the time and we
feel we have the strength and the vision, let us go for it. Nothing is
wrong with voting for a woman.
Compare us to the men right now.
Compare yourself. Ask yourself, can you as a woman do better than what
they are doing right now and if you can say yes, then vote for me.