Despite gains, women must continue to fight for their rights – President Ramotar


President Donald Ramotar (center) with women honoured for their contributions at a State House ceremony to mark International Women’s Day. [GINA Photo]
[] – President Donald Ramotar on Wednesday evening called on women to support each other regardless of race, colour, creed or political persuasion in pursuit of their rights, as he delivered the feature address to the gathering at State House to commemorate International Women’s Day.

Speaking to the hundreds of women, invited guests and a few men gathered at his official residence, President Ramotar urged women to remember the sacrifices of those such as who had gone before and their struggles for equality.

He noted that the early leaders of the PPP awakened the consciousness of Guyanese of the need to mount a special struggle for the rights of women. He read an article which was written by the late party co-founder and former President Janet Jagan, on October 1, 1944 and printed in the Argosy Newspaper.

He said that the article which focused on the need for adult suffrage for women and the obstacles they faced, “captured a vision that we still embrace today”.

The President lauded the achievements of Mrs. Jagan and recalled her struggle for human rights for all. He added that he was proud to a part of political party that has scored many firsts for local women; these included the first election of a woman to political office.

The gathering at State House at a ceremony to mark International Women’s Day. [GINA Photo]
“In 1951, three members of the PPP contested the Georgetown Council elections, Cheddi Jagan, Forbes Burnham and Janet Jagan. Cheddi Jagan and Forbes Burnham lost. Janet Jagan won a seat on the Georgetown Town Council! This fact was one of the many that saw Mrs. Jagan being named one of the 100 most rebellious women, ever, in the world”.

The achievements of the first Chief Justice, Chancellor and first female Caribbean Court of Justice Desiree Bernard were also recalled by the President.

He added that he was also proud of the fact the country has attained universal nursery and primary education and is very close to achieving the same at the secondary level.

He said the time will come when all are judged not by gender, but by their ability. Gender based violence must be stopped, the President stated, saying “I know we can do better as a country”.

The Domestic Violence Act enacted in 1996, was also mentioned by him, as were the Women’s Affairs Bureau and the Men’s Affairs Bureau along with the revised Sexual Offences Act, all of which give females some of the protection they may need.

Following brief remarks by Chairperson of the Women’s Progressive Organisation, Indra Chandarpal, PPPC’s Prime Ministerial candidate Elisabeth Harper reflected on the theme of the observance, “Make it happen” and commended the WPO and other women’s organisations, as well as some men, for their work in advancing women’s rights.

Several women were also honoured and presented with tokens of appreciation for their contributions to the struggle for human and women’s rights. [Extracted and modified from GINA]