A Lesson I Learned

Written by: Chaka Welch (She/Her) שאקה וולשCentral Service Delivery Manager / Anti-Racism…

Article Originally Published on Mar 8, 2024

On March 8th 2024, I pause and reflect on the women who have inspired me. Of course there are many. But the first one that came to mind when I woke up today is none other than my amazing GRANDmother: The Honourable, Dame, Maizie Barker-Welch.

I remember coming to this small island, Barbados, my father’s land, as a teenager having no idea about the amount of grandeur my family would surround me with. I was welcomed with open arms by my beautiful Grandmother, my aunts and uncle and cousins. Everywhere I went with my grandmother, people would almost bow, reverence, or greet her like a queen and I remember, full of ignorance at the time, wondering – Why?

What is so special about this cute lady you might ask? LET ME TELL YOU.

My grandmother made amazing contributions to women’s rights during her vice-presidency and later Presidency of CIM, for which she recently received an award from the InterAmerican Convention to Prevent, Punish and Eradicate Violence against Women.

She has had extensive contribution in many women’s organisations such as:

  • The National Organisation of Women
  • As Barbados’ representative at the first UN Conference for Women on Population Development
  • As president of the Business and Professional Women’s Club of Barbados, and many more.

She also took the time to help women in need of shelter and employment, and women wishing to escape prostitution and taught them how to sew and craft so that they could provide for their families.

She served as Senator and was appointed as Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Labour and Community Development, and also served in the Ministry of Women’s affairs.

Beyond “work”, I have seen my grandmother making sure that there was always enough food at the house, so that if anyone knocked on the door in need, that they would get a full meal.

It goes without saying, that after having had the priviledge to live with her, under her care for 10 years, that I have seen what it means to be consistent. She helped people as much as she breathed each day, and without batting an eye, crying when women cried and rejoycing for each of their successes.

Sonja Welch, Dame Maizie Barker-Welch, Chaka Welch (2014)

My grandmother, by simply being herself and being a living example, taught me what it means to be an advocate. Little did I know how much it would rub off on me.

I have seen how it rubbed off on her two daughters, my beautiful aunts, who also time and time again went out of their ways to bring food to others, to teach women about sports, critical thinking, sewing, cleaning, always teaching them some skill that they could later use to find employment.

So today, I would like to dedicate my thoughts and love to The Honourable, Dame, Maizie Barker-Welch. A pilar beyond generations. A 96 year old ball of love who still takes time and effort for women today.