A massive march demanding the introduction of comprehensive sex education in public schools; an end to violence against women and children; free, safe and easily accessible reproductive health care for all is set for next month in observance of International Women’s Day.
International Women’s Day, observed worldwide on March 8, is seen as a celebration of the contribution of women to society and an opportunity for them to refocus on the struggle for their rights.
Being held under the theme, ‘A March for Girls,’ the event will commence on March 11, at 15:00hrs at Stabroek Market Square. Participants will travel along Brickdam towards the Square of the Revolution, where the march will conclude with addresses from sexual abuse survivors.
The march is being planned and organized by the Student Society Against Human Rights Violations (SAHRV) for which Akola Thompson is the President and co-founder, along with Diana Cruickshank and Alessandra Hereman and the Socialist Workers Alliance Guyana.
‘A March for Girls’ Guyana will be held in solidarity with other marches occurring at the same time and date across the Caribbean. It is intended to bring attention to the scourge of sexual abuse and violence against women and children, but will also serve as a platform for survivors to share their stories and talk about what can be done collectively to adequately dent the number of persons abused each year.
This march was inspired by the #lifeinleggings movement which was started in Barbados by Ronella King. This movement bravely brought the issue of street harassment of women into the spotlight and demonstrated that there is an audient for fighting back, given the spread of the hash tag from Barbados to other nations throughout the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
While the organizer of this march disclosed that they were inspired by the Life in Leggings movement, and will be marching in solidarity with them, it is not a sister march.
According to Akola Thompson, “Someone from the Guyana Community of Positive Women and Girls will be holding the sister march on the same day, but at 6:00 a.m. I had met with her when I heard of their march to see if we could collaborate instead of having different marches as I don’t like the ideas of separate marches when it’s mostly the same issues being dealt with but there were some differences.
“For one, her main speaker is a politician from the ruling party and in our Guyanese climate, one government speaker automatically makes it a government programme and it tends to cloud the messages we are trying to send. While politicians are invited to march with us, they will not be the speakers. SAHRV does not see itself as a women’s march with politicians. We believe such platforms should be used for the stories of victims, survivors and (non-political) allies.”
Throughout Guyana’s 50 years as an independent nation, women have been playing a tremendous role in shaping the direction of our country; and as such, all Guyanese women and their allies are being encouraged to attend the march and bring ideas for building a sustained movement for Women’s rights.
The campaign theme for International Women’s Day 2017 is #BeBoldForChange.
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