Grassroots women in moves to hold politicians to campaign promises
Stabroek News – March 24, 2007
Forty-eight women from across the country have launched a campaign to write to political leaders about the issues affecting them as a way of dealing with the “unfulfilled promises” made to them .They say they are holding the parties in Parliament accountable to all grassroots women for the promises made in their manifestoes at the time of national elections in relation to a living income; affordable access to goods and services; protection of women and children from violence and a strong political voice for all women. The women decided on these four priorities last year.
The group held a press briefing on Thursday to officially launch their campaign which is being supported by Red Thread and Canada Fund.
According to the group, no one works more hours than grassroots women. They said that in a survey of women’s time use in 2004-2005, grassroots women in Red Thread followed the workdays of over 100 other grassroots Indo- and Afro-Guyanese, Indigenous and mixed race women and found that the typical work day for most of them was 14-18 hours. During this period there is very little leisure or free time.
For the indigenous women, an absence of electricity sees them packing all their work into the daylight hours and where there is no running water they have to visit the creek several times.
According to the women they have three work days every day: the house work, childcare and subsistence work, for which they receive no payment; the work that is done to get a little money; and the various kinds of caring work that they do in their communities, religious and other places for which they get no wages.
The women are of the view that they cannot depend on parliamentarians, political parties or other leaders because their needs as grassroots women are never a priority. So they said, they have to depend on themselves.
The main concern is that grassroots women continue to struggle to get their households going because promises were not fulfilled.
The women from various communities, including Annai, Mahdia, Linden, East Coast and Georgetown concluded a six-day meeting yesterday. During the meeting the group discussed their concerns and what actions will be taken were addressed.
The group will be writing to the various political parties next week informing them of the campaign and based on the response they will decide what action would be taken. Having a march would be considered as a possible action.
Nicola Marcus, one of the nine women who heads the network said that they would be looking to see if any of the promises was ever fulfilled.
She said they will have a report card system which would indicate what had been done by the parties for that term. At the end of every term there will be a press conference.
The group will also be sending out constant reminders via the media to remind the politicians of their promises. “If we don’t get satisfaction, we will take action,” she said.
When the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) held the Women Conversation last August some of the issues affecting the grassroots women were raised.
Another woman, who was obviously upset, said that they are fed up of being ill-treated by politicians who make lots of promises to them during elections.
“We are totally disgusted with the way grassroots women are treated…. They would just wash us over like how the flood washed us over”.
These comments were met with nods and applause.
Another woman stated that for two long grassroots women have been sitting down. She said that `enough is enough’.