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Make it happen – tackle unfinished women’s issues

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Fri, Mar 06, 2015

SEARCHLIGHT joins with millions of women all around the world, who will this Sunday, be celebrating International Women’s Day (IWD) in a multitude of ways. The women of our country will be no exception, several activities having been organised this week, culminating on Sunday.{{more}}

As we salute this important event, one can only muse why, in spite of United Nations’ recognition, there is still not enough attention paid both to the commemoration of IWD itself in too many countries, nor to utilising the occasion for greater focus on issues affecting women.

In marking IWD, it is important that we publicise and celebrate the achievements thus far in advancing the goals of equal rights and opportunities for all women. All too often, we take for granted the struggles and the sacrifices that many had to endure in order for those advances to be made and sustained. We must let the younger ones know about these.

At the same time, we cannot ignore that there is much unfinished business in achieving the goals of equal rights and opportunities and many areas which must be addressed. The advances at individual levels, particularly in the areas of education and employment, are not matched by a corresponding level of respect at the national level. Too many women, professionals or ordinary womenfolk, still have to contend with male bias and discrimination. These underlie the continuing challenges in domestic violence and related social issues.

One celebration of IWD cannot change such age-old problems but if the focus is on target, it can provide the impetus to push us further in the right direction. A commonality of purpose amongst women’s organisations, irrespective of political or religious affiliation, and cutting across social boundaries, is essential if we are to be successful in this regard.

We would like to suggest two areas which cry out for attention. In the campaign against domestic violence, we can perhaps take time to reflect on a more subtle and hidden form of social violence. We refer here to the conditions of work of domestic workers — in private homes and at the level of the hospitality industry. Too much abuse goes unnoticed here and it will be good if both the women’s and labour movements take this issue on board.

Finally, IWD in St Vincent and The Grenadines, occurs during our National Heritage Month. Can we not connect our celebration of our Garifuna and Kalinago heritage with greater research about the role of women in those societies and the part they played in the struggle to preserve our heritage and independence? We urge that attention be paid to this area and to the continuing one of the contribution of women to our national development.

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