Women have done well at educating, empowering themselves – WPO


To mark International Women’s Day (IWD) which is observed today, Monday, March 8, 2021, the Women’s Progressive Organisation (WPO) said that women in Guyana and across the globe have done well educating and empowering themselves.

The WPO was founded by the late former President Janet Jagan. In a statement issued by the WPO, it stated that women have done exceedingly well at balancing work while raising children and managing homes.

“This is not an easy task. The need for shared responsibility and adequate daycare and childcare is important and it is something that society and governments have to consider if they are serious about gender equality. Women in Guyana have a lot to celebrate,” the WPO said in a statement.

According to WPO, “Women have recognised that education is critical for their growth and personal development and it is not by accident that they are excelling in all areas of endeavour. More than 60 per cent of those graduating from universities are women and they are now turning their attention to areas that were dominated by their male counterparts…”

The organisation said that from the time of Universal Adult Suffrage in 1953 to present, women have advanced in a variety of ways, among them, being promoted to important positions in society, a trend that continues to grow. Moreover, the WPO pointed to the more than 25 progressive legislations and measures to protect women.

In this regard, it noted, “We are indeed lucky that the successive Governments of Guyana have understood the value of women in political life, and they have encouraged their participation at different levels.” In fact, the WPO reminded that women in Guyana broke the glass ceiling as early as 1953 when they were elected to the Legislative Council to constitutional changes that require one-third of women.

While the list of achievements by women is commendable, the WPO underscored that greater work is needed to remove the obstacles that are hindering their development. These, it added, include domestic and sexual violence which have become a great concern that needs to be addressed urgently.

On this note, the organisation expressed that it welcomes initiatives by the Government that will help to address this pressing issue, including the establishment of a toll-free hotline to allow victims of domestic violence to report incidents and request assistance.

Included in these initiatives, the WPO added, is the $1 billion Spotlight Initiative programme, which will see the Government working along with stakeholders to curb gender-based violence and the proposed establishment of the court superintendent department with a cadre of lawyers to lead prosecutions in each regional division for domestic violence cases, as well as the survivors’ advocates’ programme.

“In this COVID-19 environment, many problems are facing all segments of our society. Children are unable to go to school, parents cannot work the way they used to, and many have lost their jobs and source of income. These problems have only served to exacerbate the challenges faced by women.”

The WPO commended the Government for its pro-people 2021 budget which it said includes key measures such as the reversal of various tax measures which will help to offer relief during this COVID-19 pandemic; various incentives that will help the economy to grow; and social safety net measures which will provide some relief to those who are living in difficult situations.

Also, the organisation thanked the dedicated and committed women, who worked hard to ensure that our democracy was not derailed. “We thank these women for their sacrifices and for putting country first.”

Gender equality

This year’s IWD is being celebrated under the theme: “Women in Leadership: Achieving an Equal Future in a COVID-19 World”. According to WPO, this year’s theme takes cognisance of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) five, which presumes that by 2030, women will be equal partners in leadership and the goal of 50/50 will become a reality.

While Governments across the globe have committed themselves to the SDGs, the organisation pointed out that there is still much more to be done to ensure that they are met. WPO said that gender equality will only become a reality when society is prepared to confront patriarchal views that continue to keep women in subservient positions.

“Unfortunately, women’s rights always go to the back burner in times of crisis in the world. We recall the first and second world wars where it was impossible to talk about equality. In this COVID-19 environment, quite a lot of challenges have emerged for women, their families, and their way of life. In a matter of nine years, we have to make 50/50 a reality and the big question is whether there will be global commitment to this process.”