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Women must take the initiative



March 8 is recognized globally as International Women’s Day (IWD) – a day when women of ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic and political differences can look back on their achievements over the years. It is indeed worthy of commemoration.{{more}}

Tomorrow, Saturday, March 8, 2008, marks the ninety-seventh anniversary since working class women initiated the struggle for not just economic, but social and political independence as well.

The fight for equality and better standards of living began as early as 1910 when the women in Copenhagen, and later California, fought against economic injustices, oppression of all forms and the social ills that were affecting their daily lives. But it must be noted that it was not an easy task to achieve in the face of opposition from forces of all sorts.

Today, women have made tremendous accomplishments – in Education and on the job. They have held, and are still holding, top level positions in the decision-making process; in family life – more and more women are being enlightened to become self-sufficient, and with a rising consciousness of economic independence, equality and social justice. In the political arena, a notable change has developed as more and more women are coming forward to participate at different levels of the political process.

IWD 2008 is being commemorated in a climate of increased crime rates in the region. Some women have fallen victim to the illegal drug trade, as economic hardship and other pressures sometimes force them into criminality in an effort to survive.

One particular aspect to note is that in the midst of these criminal activities, especially those related to drugs and crime, our women are being used as drug mules, which indicates a new development in the exploitation of our women and their vulnerability.

Domestic violence, prevalent in the past, continues to raise its ugly head in the family, and again is taking its toll on mainly women and children resulting in frustration, broken homes and bad family relations.

IWD is being celebrated at a time when women in the region are experiencing increased acts of sexual violence and rape; our children are being drawn innocently into the muddle of incest, sexual molestation and advances to minors. These social problems have derived from society and result in increased burden on the shoulders of our women in particular.

Despite all these developments, the society seems to pay little heed, and these societal scars go unnoticed. It is one thing to say “there is a problem”, but it is an entirely different thing to act. It, therefore, makes absolutely no sense to note the problem and lack the vision to seek the solution.

The Women’s Movement in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the region, as it is, is far from being organized. While it is recognized physically, it is not as well organized as it ought to be. As a result, people are calling on governments, churches, society and everybody, but the Women’s Movement. It is of utmost importance that the women’s organizations join together now to make sure that women’s rights and equality are entirely respected and protected.

It’s time to unite, organize, build a meaningful platform and take initiatives to ensure that the demands and needs of our women are met.