Women's Issues In Guyana

Caribbean must acknowledge women’s rights • CAFRA

Posted in Activism,Gender Equality by wiig on November 23, 2006
Tags: , , ,

Kaieteur News – November 23, 2006

As male dominance and government helplessness continue an onslaught on women’s lives, it inadvertently forces enlightened women to adopt the feminist approach and build a wall of resistance that halts and transforms perpetrators.

This is according to a statement made by the Caribbean Association for Feminist Research and Action (CAFRA), highlighting the plight of women as it relates to discrimination.

Under the theme, “Eliminating Discrimination -Protecting Women’s Human Rights”, CAFRA is preparing to observe International Day for the Prevention of Violence against Women, on November 25.

According to a release issued by CAFRA National Representative (Guyana Chapter) Patricia Hackett, extensive discrimination against women still exists within the legal system.

“In the region, newspaper headlines tell the tale of women brutally killed by their spouses when they attempt to flee abusive relationships,” the statement said.

CAFRA noted that in 1979, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

Often described as an International Bill for Women’s Rights, the Convention defines what constitute discrimination, and has in place an agenda for ending it.

The Convention defines discrimination against women as “any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil, or any other field.”

According to CAFRA, the Convention was the culmination of more than 30 years of work by the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.

The Commission is a body which was established in 1946 to monitor the situation of women and promote women’s rights.

According to a recent World Bank Report, the onset of sexual initiation in the Caribbean is the earliest in the world, except for Africa , where early sexual experiences take place within marriage.

A St Vincent paediatrician noted that at least 90% of teenage mothers who give birth in hospital are impregnated by older men, CAFRA said.

It added that the Beijing Platform for Action, which governments signed on to in 1995, drew attention to 12 areas of concern affecting women.

According to CAFRA, these include the persistent burden of poverty, unequal access to education, violence, armed conflict, inequality in economic structures, power sharing, insufficient mechanisms, human rights violations, media stereotyping, and environment and the girl child.

“While concern remains critical in all 12 areas, it is the area of violence that is eliminating the lives of women,” the CAFRA statement said.

It added that women have now created a wall of resistance, the bricks of which are manifest in the body of consciousness-raising exercises on women’s dilemma.

“This is supported by lobbying and demonstrations focusing on communities and policy makers at all levels, as more feminists, including young women, stand tall on their mothers’ shoulders,” the release stated.

It added that the movement continues resistance by making public the commitments made by governments in the Beijing Platform for Action, the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women, and other human rights instruments, and by stimulating people’s action.

As a salute to women, CAFRA urges the Caribbean to draw strength from the words of Professor Joycelin Massiah, winner of a CARICOM Triennial Award for Women.

Massiah said, “On the human rights of women, the first part of my vision sees our region up front, forthright and fearless in upholding the human rights of women.

“My vision is that a human rights approach to gender will become an integral aspect of programme design and implementation, that strong and well-resourced gender units will become a reality, and that their location will signal the commitment of our political directorate to the universal human rights which we claim to uphold”.

CAFRA is a regional non-governmental organisation established on April 1, 1985, and spans the English, Spanish, Dutch and French-speaking Caribbean with 16 Chapters.

Its mission is “to celebrate and channel the collective power of women for individual and societal transformation, thus creating a climate in which social justice is realised.”

•  CAFRA has done extensive work on violence against women and girls in the Caribbean, women’s globalisation and trade.


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