Women's Issues In Guyana

Peace critical to women’s advancement

Posted in Gender Equality by wiig on March 10, 2008
Tags: , , ,

By Tajeram Mohabir

Guyana Chronicle – March 10, 2008

PRESIDENTIAL Advisor on Governance Gail Teixeira is of the opinion that peace is a necessary element if women are to advance in the varying facets of their lives.

She made this observation last Friday while she was guest speaker at a symposium convened by the Women’s Progressive Organization (WPO), women’s arm of the ruling People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC), to mark International Women’s Day, which was commemorated yesterday.

A former government minister with portfolio responsibility for Health and Culture among other ministerial posts, Ms Teixeira’s presentation primarily focused on the impact of crime on women and how it affected them as victims, citizens and even as perpetrators.

On the subject of ‘Women As Victims Of Crime’, she said that from January to August 2005, some 84 women were murdered, while another 170 were raped in 2004. And of the 46 known cases of carnal knowledge reported that same year, the majority of the victims were girls.

Noting that the observance of International Women’s Day was of relevance to both sexes and not just women and girls alone, she said that young boys are also silent victims of rape and other forms of abuses, but that these incidents were rarely brought to light as mothers usually tend to cover up such atrocities so as to protect their sons from being stigmatised by society.

She said too that in most instances, the wanton acts committed on women and children are perpetrated by persons with whom they are very close. Such abuses, she lamented, can have a negative impact on victims lives both physically and psychologically especially when having to relate to other people on a daily basis. The good news, however, is that these problems can be surmounted with proper counselling.

Perhaps mindful of the age-old adage about prevention being better than cure, Ms Teixeira feels women ought to learn how to defend themselves and to see their shoes or other personal effects such as their makeup kit as a potential weapon in the event of a crisis as such items are known to have the potential of inflicting some serious damage on their aggressors.

Turning her attention to other factors that can place an economic burden on women where raising their children was concerned, such as the loss of a husband, fiancée, or breadwinner to accidents or robbery, Ms Teixeira called on those in authority at the regional administrative level to play a greater role in getting such women’s lives back on track, as while handouts and school feeding programmes are important, psychological support is what they really need.

And on the subject of women and crime, she said that while some are victims there are quite a few out there who are perpetrators but that this had mainly to do with their involvement in the illicit drug trade as evidenced by their overwhelming presence in the local female prisons.

She made the point, however, that the reason some women turn to crime was because they may have found themselves in dire economic straits and peddling drugs was their only way out. For such women she said, imprisonment is not the answer as it only serves to compound their problem since it is their children who are made to suffer and bear the brunt of their mistake.

Women’s struggle for recognition in society goes back to 1857 when a group of courageous garment workers in the United States staged a walk-out to press for better wages and working conditions.

This unprecedented development was quickly suppressed by the police. In the process, some were injured while the others arrested but their action paved the way for many such struggles to follow around the world.

Today, women the world over on International Women’s Day remember Clara Zetkin and Rosa Luxemburg as being among the greatest world leaders to have ever championed the rights of working women.

In 1907, the first International Women’s Secretariat was established and in 1910 at the 2nd conference of the International Women’s Secretariat, Clara Zetkin proposed

March 8th to be International Proletariat Women’s Day. In 1911, this day was celebrated by more than one million women and men who attended rallies.

In addition to their demand for the right to work, for vocational training and an end to discrimination on the job, they also demanded the right to vote and hold political office. The latter avenue allowed them to participate and influence decisions that affect their lives.


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