Women the world over are celebrating International Women’s Day today. There is much to reflect on since this day has assumed a new dimension for women throughout the world – developed, or under-developed societies. It has become the focal point for the evaluation of the coordinated efforts of women to secure rights and equal participation in all aspects of life.
For many women in various parts of the world their dream of having the basic rights to make choices for themselves in a variety of ways is virtually impossible. Societal norms, traditional and religious beliefs have left millions of women without any recourse to their basic human rights.
As we reflect and observe this day, we need to recognize that the journey has just begun for some while others have advanced. As we reflect on the journey of 100 years and more, it is necessary to assess the tremendous achievements made the world over for the right to vote, to be elected and to participate in the development of society. It was only two countries of the world prior to 1902 where women had the right to vote. By the end of the 20th century, women in 66 countries won that right. Over that century, women had reached positions of head of state or government in 93 countries.
Even though there are remarkable strides, a serious economic and social imbalance remains. Women own only one per cent of the world’s property and earn only 10% of the world’s income but perform 66% of the work and produce 50% of food.
A WHO study revealed that 20% of women worldwide experience sexual abuse as children. There are 5,000 honor killings per year; in South Africa one woman is killed every 6 hours by an intimate partner. In India 22 women are murdered each day in dowry-related incidents. 80% of the world victims of human trafficking are women; 100-140 million girls have been the victims of Female Genital Mutilation, 60 million girls per year are forced into marriage as child brides and worldwide 25% of pregnant women are subjected to physical or sexual abuse.
Clearly, the world needs to do much more for women based on some of the statistics presented.
We in Guyana are indeed fortunate since women activism has been on the front burner since the early forties. A vibrant women’s movement has prompted many positive actions in propelling legislations and policies to advance the empowerment of women.
Let us all work together to reduce the incidence of violence against women and children while ensuring at the same time that poor and single parents are given the necessary guidance and leadership to take charge of their lives positively.
We in the WPO believe that the women of Guyana have a lot to celebrate while acknowledging at the same time that we have a lot more to do. We must collectively walk the talk so that the struggle by the garment workers who led the way for better conditions in 1857 must continuously inspire and energize the women who are in the forefront of the drive for increasing women’s empowerment.
The WPO wishes to use this occasion to salute its own stalwarts as well as those who have consistently championed the struggle for women’s equality; the foremost among them being its late President Mrs. Janet Jagan, founder member of the WPEO and the WPO.
Today, the 8th of March, at 3.00 p.m., there will be an official activity organized by the WPO to celebrate International Women’s Day. Happy International Women‘s Day to all Guyanese women.
Women’s Progressive Organization
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