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Women’s changing roles

Women’s changing roles

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Over the past few weeks and particularly since the November 5 elections in SVG, many of us in the media, and in the wider society as a whole, have been lauding the role that women are increasingly playing in our political process.

Their access to positions of power and leadership has especially been singled out for praise.

Clearly, these are very positive developments on which to continue to build a society in which gender equity and the participation of women in all major aspects of our social and economic development are fundamental pillars. It is particularly heartening to witness right before our eyes how access to educational opportunities for young women can accelerate this process.

Yet even as we continue to highlight these positive developments there are some disturbing, and frankly ugly negative trends affecting our women which we cannot afford to ignore or to sweep under the carpet. The new opportunities and expanded involvement of women have also exposed some negative trends creeping into our society.

Now that some of the old taboos about what is acceptable women’s behaviour no longer hold, there is increasing opportunity not only for young women to step up the ladder in a positive sense but also to adopt a number of negative practices hitherto mainly the preserve of men. We today observe that more and more women are joining their male counterparts in negative social practices – the public expressions of filthy language, excessive consumption of alcohol and even lewd behaviour in public, sometimes without regard to the presence of minors. The thinking seems to be , “if men can do it, so can we”.

There is a more worrying aspect to this social liberation and that is in respect of the involvement of women in criminal activity, young women in particular, but some older ones as well. The recent well-publicised jailbreak of men charged with serious criminal offences has revealed that women were among those who aided and abetted in the attempted evasion of criminal justice.

Not too long ago it was also revealed that women had participated as decoys in acts of robbery and other acts as accomplices in serious crimes. There has also been the well-established role of women in the illegal drug trade, principally as drug-mules but also allegedly in money-laundering activities as well. So side by side with the positive developments, there are the negative trends as well.

These cannot be ignored and need to be recognized, analysed and addressed, not only by the institutions of law and order but also by social institutions themselves, including the women’s movement and religious organisations as well.

It is a growing cancer in our society which we will ignore at our own peril.