Women’s Progressive Organization condemns ‘political harassment’

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…’psychological abuse’ as it reflects on its 64th Anniversary

May 27, marks 64 years since the Women’s Progressive Organization (WPO) was formed in 1953.

The WPO, in its anniversary message, articulated, among other things, its position that “ever since the APNU/AFC Coalition came into office they have embarked on a program of witch-hunting and ethnic exclusion,” More so to the detriment of women.

See their full statement below:

May 27th marks 64 years since the Women’s Progressive Organization was formed in 1953.   Its forerunner, the WPEO formed in July 1946 came into being long before the formation of a political party in this country.

The rationale for such a formation became necessary because of the poor conditions women were living under and the absence of basic rights for them.  The foresight of Janet Jagan, who came into the country in 1943, recognized these realities and immediately spoke to the issues in the National newspapers in 1944.  What were those conditions: it was the lack of education, abject poverty, poor housing and living conditions, starvation wages and all the ills that are associated with poverty and exploitation under colonial rule.

With the formation of the PPP in 1950 and the struggle for adult suffrage which became a reality, women and men were given the opportunity to participate in elections without conditions of property or position.

The winning of the 1953 national election in Guyana saw women being elevated for the first time and three women were elected to the Legislative Council as well as the position of the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly.

The WPO was formed a few weeks after and the main purpose was to give leadership to women in order for them to improve the lives of themselves, their families, and to become involved in the development of their country.  Educating our girl children was the process which would make that possible, thus, the call for mothers to send their daughters to school became the active mission of the organization.

Simultaneously, the organization in collaboration with the PPP began its advocacy for Independence.  Thereafter, every effort was made to reach out to women, especially those who were living in rural Guyana, to make them understand how important education was for their children.

Those initiatives were the precursor to what eventually occurred in the late 1950’s where women began to take their place in pivotal ways in Guyana.

With government playing a more significant role in providing education  more people, especially Indo Guyanese who because of their religion were not prepared to convert to Christianity, were stepping forward in getting their children enrolled in primary  schools.

Thus consequently, the call to get mothers to send their children to school was beginning to bear fruit.  People recognized that having an education provided the opportunity to make choices in all areas of life. Unfortunately, the period in which National Service was used as a tool for students to graduate prevented a lot of Indo Guyanese women from completing their educations.

When the PPP/C won the elections of 1992 the opportunity to accelerate developments in all areas of women’s empowerment became a reality for all women.  These included numerous initiatives of the government, such as, legislation, policies and  programs, signing of conventions and international commitments.  The PPP/c record on women’s rights is indeed impressive.

Ever since the APNU/Coalition came into office they have embarked on a program of witch-hunting and ethnic exclusion.  What is distressing to note is that the majority of those who are being removed and replaced are Indo Guyanese including a number of women?  Indian women have been ridiculed over the years for being passive and invisible and when for the first time they have an opportunity to shine they are being singled out and discriminated against.  All women including Indo Guyanese must have an opportunity to grow and contribute to Guyana’s National development.

We use this occasion to call on all women to stand firm and let their voices be heard.  We must use the available means and methods to expose all the harassment and exclusion of our women.  We condemn the harassment of women especially the recent action against Ms. Azeena Baksh Registrar of Deeds which smacks of political harassment and psychological abuse.

As we reflect on 64 years we use this opportunity to thank all those who have contributed in one way or the other to the growth and development of the organization.

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