Hon. Simona Broomes, Minister within the Ministry of Natural Resources
Businesswoman, Member of Parliament, Miner
Simona Broomes was born and raised in Bartica, Guyana to John Baptiste Charles and Muriel Charles as the last of thirteen children. She attended secondary school in Bartica, but with little family resources and lack of educational incentives within the family, she began buying and selling gold at the age of sixteen. This led to her establishing her very own mining operation in the interior at eighteen. It was truly an accomplishment that Ms. Broomes quickly gained the respect of the male miners and became a force to be reckoned with: she succeeded in the interior blazing a trail as she went.
Following in the footsteps of her deceased father, Ms. Broomes developed a passion for politics. She looked at the needs of her community, examined her selfless nature and compassion, and devised a plan to make a difference. She joined the Regional Democratic Council in Region 7, working and developing a relationship with Hugh Desmond Hoyte, the late president of Guyana and leader of the Peopleâ€™s National Congress Reform (PNC/R). But it was the disadvantage experienced by small miners that she witnessed daily which prompted her to become a champion for their rights in Guyana through the formation of the Omai Small Mining Committee.
After noticing the attempts of the new government to demolish small miners, she led a shut-down in Bartica and was granted membership on the Special Land Use Committee. Throughout these endeavors Ms. Broomes still managed to run a successful operation in the interior of Guyana. But she was not only a business woman, she was a humanitarian and touched the lives of many earning an epithet â€œheroineâ€. But it was not until she founded the Guyana Women Miners Organisation (GWMO) in 2012 that she truly epitomized that epithet.
Frequenting the hinterlands, and witnessing the discrimination and abuse of women and human trafficking of young girls, Ms. Broomes was determined to expose these injustices in the hidden parts of Guyana. And she did just that. After 25 years as a miner, she established the GWMO, a volunteer membership and advocacy organization, to empower women miners and address the economic discrimination and physical intimidation that they face daily. The GWMO is the first organisation of its kind in Guyana comprising miners advocating on a cross-section of social and economic issues. Ms. Broomes worked relentlessly to engage the government, the international community, and the media to raise public awareness of human trafficking, identify traffickers, promote the establishment of shelters in remote mining communities for victim care, improve law enforcement, and increase job training for women in mining.
Because of her bold advocacy her life was under constant threat and this cumulated in April 2013 when she physically assaulted while rescuing victims. But it was not only physical threat she was under as her boldness to shine light on a crime that was accepted saw her being targeted by the authorities she wanted to partner with to fight this scourge. Apart from the public bashing she received she even came under prosecution by the Guyana Police Force in 2013 when they accused her of assaulting an alleged trafficker. Their investigation cleared her of any wrong doing.
However, despite dangers of retaliation from traffickers and the authorities, she assisted several trafficking victims, and along with other GWMO members, have temporarily housed victims before transporting them to government care and law enforcement resources in the capital. She not only rescues and fosters young girls, but carries out thorough searches to find and reunite these girls with their families when government officials see no way of doing so. Under her dynamic leadership, the GWMO and its 440 members, have become consistently powerful advocates against human trafficking. The GWMO has become a recognized force in combating modern day slavery and promoting equality and economic opportunities for women in Guyana. Due to her known benevolence, perseverance and determination to eradicate TIP, she was recognized as a Hero by the United States of America and awarded the 2013 TIP Hero Award by Mr. John Kerry himself, Secretary of State.
She became a member of the Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Gender Equality Group in 2012 and continued her phenomenal work after becoming a member of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). Broomes has worked with the United Nations, International Development Bank (IDB), and the United States, Canadian and British Governments in her fight of human trafficking. With the aid of the Mercy’s Sisters and Catholic Church, Ms. Broomes has established the first home for trafficked girls in Guyana.
With diligence and zeal, she fought to shed light on the injustices occurring in Guyana by advocating across the country and internationally. Soon, Ms. Broomes realized that she could not implement her plans for betterment alone without the aid of the government, so she campaigned with A Partnership for National Unity+ Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Coalition in 2015 at the national elections. Her party was elected to serve the people and she was appointed Minister within the Ministry of Social Protection; a position where she can directly implement the necessary changes to eradiate injustices towards the people of Guyana. She would now be able to champion those who feel helpless and be the mother for those who feel motherless.
Simona Broomes is the personification of Martin Carter’s lines, “I sleep not to dream, I dream to change the world.” She has always dreamt to change the circumstances of the people in her immediate environment. Without a doubt, her legacy will continue to grow.