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NDP will not stand in way of women – Eustace

NDP will not stand in way of women – Eustace

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In the last 30 years, while women have made numerous strides, they have also suffered various setbacks.

So says President of the New Democratic Party (NDP) Arnhim Eustace.

The NDP Leader spoke about women’s issues on Monday, March 23,{{more}}during a panel discussion held at the Democrat House in Richmond Hill.

He said that the NDP has participated in numerous discussions on women’s issues and the party is seeking to now address the issues on a national level, in an effort to change the attitudes and conditions that demean and disempower women.

He said that demeaning and disempowering women is rampant in the country, so much so that the NDP finds it uniquely difficult, “in fact, impossible”, to find women political candidates willing to risk “the utter violation” suffered by the last NDP woman candidate bold enough to oppose the Unity Labour Party (ULP) administration.

Eustace stressed also that because of the poor collection of gender data locally, a major obstacle exists in treating and effectively addressing a number of issues (rape and domestic violence) that affect women here.

“Measuring the impact of these successes and failures must in part be anecdotal, but we can generally agree that women in St Vincent and the Grenadines are not unaccustomed to leading. Our households are just as likely to be headed by women as by men, as are many of our businesses,” said Eustace, who stressed that women are active participants in the development of Vincentian society, while opining that the vast majority of church congregants and attendees at political meetings are women.

He added also that statistics show that females are empowering themselves as, “girls outperform boys in primary and secondary school, and women outnumber men on the university rolls.”

The Opposition Leader also spoke about formerly male-dominated fields (such as accounting and law) being now dominated by females, “while women have begun to make strides in currently non-traditional fields such as the clergy and engineering…in farming and business.”

Eustace is, however, of the opinion that the current Unity Labour Party (ULP) Government is not doing enough to empower women, but in fact are segregating females.

“I will demonstrate how many of these strides were made in the 1980s and 1990s and how women have lost that gait since. One major cause is that the Government, beginning in 1984 with the first NDP Administration and ending with the last NDP administration in 2001, demonstrated its implicit understanding that its role in women’s empowerment was to get out of women’s way,” said Eustace.

He added, “what I mean by this is that a responsible Government recognizes that it cannot give women empowerment, for no one empowers a woman but herself. It is the role of government, and men too, not to stand in the way of women’s empowerment. I have not and will not come before you, women of this nation, claiming to offer you gifts of empowerment. Instead, I give you notice that the New Democratic Party administration will not prevent your empowerment, and that we will work under your guidance to create the environment most conducive to it.”

The Opposition Leader said that the party he leads is about fostering a society in which women and any other disenfranchised group finds and devises its self-determination.

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