- TRIBUTE TO MRS. VIOLA BURNHAM
From Angela King, United Nations
Mrs. Viola Burnham of Guyana will long be remembered by women of her
- country and on the international scene as one of the Caribbean's leading
- women in public life.
As wife, mother, teacher, social development planner, women's rights activist
- and politician, she reacted to the inequalities in her society which, over a half
- a century, was transformed from colony to Republic.
In the Caribbean, a great awakening of political consciousness and basic
- human rights started in the 1930s when Viola was a young girl. By the 1970s,
- this movement had grown to fruition with women not only thinking about their
- rights but seriously creating and implementing programmes which would make
- this a reality. Viola Burnham was at the forefront of this movement. Along with
- Nita Barrow (Barbados), Lucille Mair (Jamaica), Eugenia Charles (Dominica),
- Peggy Antrobus (Barbados), Hazel Brown (Trinidad & Tobago) and others,
- she made her mark beyond the Caribbean. She participated actively in shaping
- the outcome of the First World Conference on Women held in Mexico City in 1975
- and in subsequent women's meetings of the United Nations.
Not only did Mrs. Burnham make an outstanding contribution to women's rights
- on behalf of her country, but as Vice-President of Guyana and leader of the women’s
- arm of the Peoples National Congress (PNC), she embraced women's groups and
- non-governmental organizations and with thier collaboration put into action many
- programmes and projects to empower women and girls economically thus enabling
- them to have a real voice in national and local politics.
Viola Burnham is remembered not only in the Caribbean, but universally for her
- commitment, her leadership, her vision and her humanity and her solidarity with
- other women in the Third World.
Angela E. V. King
Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women
10 October 2003