EYEWITNESS: Empty rhetoric…

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…on rural women

Yesterday was International Women’s Day and as usual the international coordinators came up with a theme for the year: “Time is Now: Rural and urban activists transforming women’s lives”. On the claim for the transformation of rural women’s lives, your Eyewitness’s reaction was, “Really??”

He’s quite aware of the bevy of women’s organisations working away in Georgetown who also may claim to have rural women’s interests in mind. But the need for specific WOMEN’S organisations should remind the essentially urban women that rural women need to speak for themselves, act up for themselves, and accomplish for themselves.

Funny thing is that there are several such organisations, but they don’t even show up on the radar of the urban credentialising process – which is mostly self-referential, to begin with.

Take the greatest tragedy to hit Guyanese women in the last decade – the arbitrary firing of some 5700 sugar workers, and the redundancy of another 2000 working for private cane farmers — by this PNC-led coalition Government.

Can these urban women’s groups say how many of those fired workers were women?? Of course they can’t!! But they should know that the task of ensuring the families of each of those fired workers survive will fall on the 7700 women in the families. So yes, these women’s lives have been transformed all right: into living nightmares!

So who’ve spoken out for these women? Did the GWI think to place a moratorium on the water bills of the affected 7700 families?? And what about concrete actions – local content — for the rural women plunged into the vortex of unemployment.

There is, of course, the notion of “intersectionality”, which proposes that an individual may be oppressed along several axes – which then “intersect” in the person to reinforce each other.

So that’s why the theme made a distinction between “urban” and “rural” women. Sure all women are oppressed in patriarchal societies – meaning, ALL societies. But rural women are doubly oppressed, since, unlike their urban “sisters,” they’re considered — even by the latter — as “backward”. Like, for instance, assuming those rural women haven’t organized themselves in different ways than they have.

In Guyana, the “rural” category is further broken down: coastal women look down on rural/interior women. These women are therefore triply oppressed.

Back in the late sixties, Virginia Slims cigarette came up with a slogan to attract women: “You’ve come a long way, baby!!”

In Guyana, the rural women are still moribund.

…on crime

Even as the Business Minister (he owns a business, your Eyewitness was told!) extolled the Exxon ‘bird in the bush’ as opposed to the gold ‘bird in the hand’, the latest criminal depredation might give even the Texas company pause. Seems some kick-down-the-door bandits invaded the home of their Director of Shore Operations and viciously beat and robbed him and his family.

Now, the American Embassy has already warned its citizens about the rampant crime wave washing over our country, even as the Security Minister (he’s secure in his job, your Eyewitness was told, because he’s good window dressing!!) insists that “serious” crime is plummeting!!

Now, can you imagine the reaction in the business community which the Exxon oil strike has attracted? Reading the declassified US Embassy files, we learnt a posting to Guyana was like being sent to the armpit of the world. With the crime wave, we might just become the new Colombia. But there might be a silver lining to that reputation.

“Local content” will increase with the need for private security!!

…and bluff

GECOM Chair, Octogenarian ex (Chief?) Justice Patterson, had his snide and obscene bluff to the Auditor General called. The AG will hand over the smoking gun files on Patterson’s CEO to the DPP.

Who’s tumescent now?

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