IWD: No country has fully achieved the promise of gender equality – Minister Vindhya Persaud

Minister of Human Services and Social Security Dr Vindhya Persaud

See full International Women’s Day message from Minister of Human Services and Social Security Dr Vindhya Persaud:

On the occasion of International Women’s Day, I would like to express sincere gratitude for the efforts and enthusiasm of all those who strive, every day, for gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Let us celebrate the acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role challenging inequality in our society. From their example and for the future we envisage for all our women, let us all—women and men alike—choose to push against the persistent and widespread violence against our women and girls.

The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action of 1995 was the most ground-breaking process in the history of gender equality and women’s emancipation.

Yet, 26 years since this historic declaration, no country has fully achieved the promise of gender equality. What is even more frightening is the trend of misrepresentation to all forms of woman-centred discourse, activity and empowerment. Generations of progressive and enlightened thinking are seen as resisting the familiar and confining space that has forced women to conform or adhere to limited standards and expectations. We are at great risk of losing too many of our lights.

In the 21st century, it is unconscionable that about one in three women has experienced some form of physical or sexual violence in her lifetime. The recent horrific attacks on our women and children, including elderly women across our country must be condemned by all and we must collectively work to change the culture and attitudes in relation to violence against women. We must each resolve that violence against women will not go undetected, unreported or unpunished. Perpetrators must be held accountable and face the full force of our justice system.

Today, I want to urge all citizens to take action and challenge gender based-violence and condemn all forms of violence, discrimination and harassment in public and private spheres.

It is up to each one of us, as social actors, to dismantle the stereotypes and prejudice that feed inequality between women and men. We all have a responsibility to this change and no contribution is too small.

Because women’s issues are fundamental issues of human rights, we expect change to happen with the cooperation of men. It is time for them to accept this challenge rather than feel challenged. Women do not become powerful beings by oppressing or disenfranchising men. Women become powerful because they understand it is their right.

The Ministry of Human Services is committed to working with all partners to support and empower women and girls. A 914 emergency hotline for domestic violence victims was launched in 2020. The Survivor Advocates programme provides emotional support, crisis counselling and other support mechanisms to domestic and sexual violence victims.

There will be a concentrated movement by the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security to enable women to utilize their skills and talent through the Cottage Industry Initiatives moving them from dependence to independence.

I applaud women who have made significant strides in diverse spheres and blazed trails for generations of girls. I salute those who continue to champion each and all the causes that will contribute to a sustained movement of empowerment.

We must continue to challenge the structural causes of women’s oppression, discrimination and marginalization so that our development goals or plan of actions related to gender equality and women’s human rights will be realized.

Happy International Women’s Day!