Nov 27, 2023 Letters
Kaieteur Sports The President, Executive Council and Members of the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU), join with the rest of the world in recognizing International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women being celebrated on November 25, 2023. Women’s rights are human rights, and to this there is #NoExcuse.
Over the next sixteen (16) days, the GPSU, like other civil society and governmental organizations, will be engaged in enhanced activism to highlight, and ultimately eradicate every culture of violence against women and the girl child. These activities will culminate on December 10, with the celebration of international Human Rights Day. Women and the girl child continue to live in fear worldwide, conditions exacerbated by war and poverty. This period gives an opportunity to enlarge the discussion about the effects of violence and redouble efforts for eradication.
The protection of women and the girl child is important for the sustenance of society, a healthy work force, and a vibrant trade union movement. At the earliest, women laid the ground work for the formation of the British Guiana Civil Service Association, the forerunner to the GPSU. Women continue to play vital roles in leadership and in the development of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, from commerce, governmental services, aviation, mining, legal services, and the fight for better working conditions in the vanguard.
The theme for this year’s sixteen (16) days of activism is of moment “Invest to prevent violence against women and girls”. The GPSU will join other non-governmental organizations to call on citizens to show how much they care about ending violence against women and girls and calls on the government to share their plans on the prevention and eradication of gender-based violence.
In the context of Guyana, rhetoric and optics are not to be regarded as investments. Two years ago, GPSU highlighted the plight of women in Guyana in its message on this occasion. The focus then was “women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world”. The Union recognized that women are continuously exposed to life-threatening risks, doing so without proper recognition, insufficient protection, and inadequate compensation. This year, women in military services, and those serving as teachers and medical personnel (especially those in remote hinterland locations away from families) were offered a paltry GYD$25,000 or USD$125 as their annual bonus; while the duly constituted trade unions have been excluded in national decision making, including the negotiation of better working conditions.
In its message, the GPSU highlighted the misogynistic disposition of men occupying key positions in Guyana; including the former Chief Executive Officer of Linden Hospital Complex, who violently and with vulgarity, attacked a group of young women during their lobby efforts for better working conditions. This led to protest actions by the women workers of the Hospital, who were soon thereafter served with notice of reprisal action by those higher in government.
Britta Lejon, President of Public Services International (PSI) points out that, the work of employers, states, and trade unions, for equality in the labour market increases women’s opportunity to live independent lives and the conditions to leave violent relationships.
This week, Stabroek News reported that ‘The body of a 38-year-old mother of Mahaica was discovered with a knife stuck in her neck.’ This is evident that we live in a society where there remains a culture to harm women, and often times ‘feminicide’ (support by State actors, including law enforcement for misogynistic behaviours). It is time that we raise our voices, and ask questions of our leaders as to how much time and resources they are investing in eradicating this scourge in our society.
International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 190, together with its Recommendation 206, is the first international treaty that recognizes the right of everyone to a world of work free form violence and harassment, including gender-based violence. The ratification of this Convention by Guyana would enhance local laws and provide the necessary knowledge and framework to recognise and stamp out instances of such adversities.
The GPSU remains committed towards protecting women and the girl child, and promises to always keep its doors open, and our hands tied in solidarity with women across Guyana. The GPSU continues to ensure that there are adequate and quality facilities available to women to provide much needed dependent care, other resources and considerations, while they pursue upward mobility and assume a stronger presence of leadership throughout Guyana.
Guyana Public Service Union
AUBREY NORTON FRIGHTEN RENEGOTIATION AND RING-FENCING
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