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
United Nations.
10 October 2003