Mar 09, 2013 News
As Guyana joined the world in observing International Women’s Day, Prime Minister Samuel Hinds yesterday declared that there is no place for violence against women; and called on all Guyanese to play their part in the elimination process.
Hinds’s comments were well accepted by an audience of career women as he delivered remarks at a symposium held at the International Conference Centre.
The event, which was hosted by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, attracted women from all sectors of Guyana’s labour force and in the absence of President Donald Ramotar, the Prime Minister played the part.
This year’s theme under which International Women’s day is observed is “The Gender Agenda: Gaining Momentum.”
Prime Minister Hinds called on the police to protect women; on the judiciary to ensure justice is awarded and on employers to ensure their right to decent work is not violated. He also used the opportunity to call on all men to give women the “respect they deserve.”
The Prime Minister’s comments come at a juncture when legislations are in place to protect women’s rights legally but enforcement is lacking. Many complaints of violence against women are treated lightly and sometimes never see the light of day in Courts, he said.
Hinds, who identified his grandmother and mother as two extraordinary women, pledged that Government will continue to pursue the empowerment of women.
He said that Guyana has produced many outstanding women locally and abroad and saluted the women who pioneered women’s rights, empowerment and gender equality locally.
The Prime Minister acknowledged that women are integrally involved in the crafting of laws in the National Assembly and in the creation of programmes and policies that influence the lives of women in Cabinet.
Women are usually the ones to make necessary sacrifices to keep families strong, the Prime Minister said and called on men to step forward and make an equal sacrifice in the development of family life.
He said that Guyana has made steady progress in achieving gender equality, particularly, through access to primary and secondary education. However, strides are being made for parity at the tertiary level.
According to Hinds, twice the number of women than men graduate with first degrees from the University of Guyana. He said that that situation needs to be addressed since it can lead to violence in the home. Hinds said that husbands sometimes feel inferior to their wives’ achievements and resort to violence to restore the domain of power.
Hinds reminded that traditionally, women were caregivers but noted that today this concept is changing and more women are in the work force, are property owners and have a presence in the National Assembly.
He recalled that in 2001 the Constitution was amended to allow equal status of women.
Minister of Human Resource and Social Security, Jennifer Webster, said that though women all over the world deserve to celebrate “this day,” Caribbean and Guyanese women have more to pat themselves on the back for; since Caribbean women went through slavery and indentership.
Webster, a woman of worth herself, applauded the signature contributions of a number of Guyanese iconic women including Janet Jagan and Viola Burnham
She said that women have greater representation in parliament in 2013 where there are 31 per cent females in parliament as compared to 1992 when there were 18.5 per cent.
Webster noted that Guyana is 25th of 189 countries that liberate women. The Minister then pointed out that the life expectancy of women and their maternal health have increased in Guyana.
Webster told the gathering that gender equality is not a women initiative. Rather, it is one that needs to be embraced by all.
She too called on every Guyanese to respect women, “work together and make sure Guyana moves on.”
Khadija Musa, United Nations Resident Co-ordinator, UNDP, said that she is hurt to see violence against women splashed on the front page of daily newspapers. Women can transform their situation and this will require character and behavioural changes which will need to begin at home, she added.
Musa said that change is possible and it is happening at a time when every country in the world had a female on its Olympics teams (London 2012); and peoples stood in solidarity with the teenage Pakistani girl who was shot because of her fight for girls to be educated.
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