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As Guyana joins with the rest of the world to observe International Women’s Day (IWD), we are reminded that the struggle for justice and equality for our women continues to be threatened. This year, international Women’s Day comes at a time when there is a darkening cloud that threatens the wellbeing of our women.
The theme for IWD 2021, “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID 19 world” is a reminder of the role our women leaders across political, economic and social divides have to play as the world transitions to a new paradigm influenced by the realities of COVID 19.
But while much of the developed world focus on new ways of working, socializing and generally doing things in a COVID world, our local reality is one where the elimination of violence against our women remains a goal yet to be reached. Every day in our local newspapers and social media platforms we read of women being abused, assaulted, maimed, disfigured, raped, threatened and even worse, some pay the ultimate price; they are murdered.
In the Guyana context, women leaders face not only the challenge of aiding the development of women who may be more vulnerable but, they themselves face the challenge of not being seen and treated as an object to be abused. Even more challenging to our women leaders, is the task of being seen as an equal, as a peer by some men in our society.
We acknowledge that some progress has been made by our women and today many of them serve as CEOs and head constitutional and other high offices. They have broken through the proverbial ‘glass ceiling’. But the struggle is not yet over. Abuse of our women at all strata of society remains our biggest challenge. Facing that challenge must go beyond the token recognition of women on International Women’s Day, Mother’s Day or any other special occasion. It must be more than formulating voluminous policies, making lofty statements and extending platitudes. Until such a time when our women are safe, are allowed to develop their full potential without interference, are respected and treated as equals, the struggle must continue.
No woman is safe until all women are safe.