A life of service
From as early as she can remember, her life was one of service.
That’s how Barbados’ latest Dame, Maizie Barker-Welch, described her life to a team from Barbados TODAY at her Accommodation Road, Spooner’s Hill, St Michael home after receiving accolade in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List for the work she’s done in championing the cause of women.
Dame Maizie, who was the first of 12 children born to Reverend Frank Barker and Athalie Barker, said her parents always instilled in her that she should try to assist residents in her community.
“My father who was a teacher at the Clifton Hill Moravian Primary School and later became the principal at the Grantley Adams Secondary School dedicated his life to the betterment of people. I saw it from my childhood. It went so far that when I was a student at the St Michael School and was taught domestic science by the late Lady Grace Adams, my father encouraged me to pass on what I had learned at school to the other girls in Clifton Hill. From the time I was a child I was teaching someone the skills I had learned at school. Whatever I learned in music I also taught my peers in the village,” she recalled.
During her interview with Barbados TODAY she spoke about some of her concerns.
Dame Maizie, who grew up in a religious environment with her father becoming a Moravian cleric after retirement, expressed concern at the decline of parental guidance in modern Barbadian homes.
“I think that the trouble with juvenile delinquency can be traced to poor parenting,” she said.
“Parents today are not carrying out their duties as they should. I can say that straight and plain because parents go to schools and if a teacher happens to correct a child , the mother or father visits the school and abuses the teacher in front of the child. That is not setting a good example to the child. At this time we need to pray for Barbados. We need to pray that parents take on their responsibilities seriously.”
Raised in a society where households practised thrift, Dame Maizie also condemned the extravagance and wasteful spending by Barbadians.
“In the past Barbadians knew how to save. Today, Barbadians like too much credit. The old people had something called a meeting turn which was used to do something substantial. They saved towards something. Parents of yesteryear used to put their children through school with the money saved in a meeting. Households must also grow some of what they eat in small kitchen gardens,” she said.
Dame Maizie, who became the second president of the the National Organization of Women in 1972 and president of the Business and Professional Womens’ Club, expressed concern at the high incidence of domestic violence during the past year.
The former teacher, actress, parliamentarian and women’s rights activist also wants to see more women entering the field of representative politics in Barbados.
In 1986, after winning the St Joseph seat on a Democratic Labour Party ticket, she became the lone lady in the Lower House when the Barbados Labour Party won a mere three seats to the DLP’s 24.
“I always felt that there should be more women in parliament to give that feminine touch to state affairs. I feel that if it takes legislation to make this a reality it should be done. However, some people may think that such a step will be counter-productive. I would like to see a specific quota system introduced. In spite of the current situation women still have to say thank you because if you look at the number of women who hold top positions in the corporate world we would have to admit that we have made major strides over the years. We must not rest on our laurels,” she said.