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Centenary of International Women’s Day

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The one hundredth anniversary of International Women’s Day was observed on Tuesday, March 8, 2011, this week. It was indeed a great landmark for the celebration of the achievements of women in economic, political and social life. It was a national holiday in some parts of the world, but in SVG it was just another day.{{more}} Although each country could choose its theme, there is usually a UN theme, and this year it is “Equal access to education training and Science and technology. Pathway to decent work for women.” Last year it was “Equal rights, equal opportunities: Progress for all”. The theme each year avoids the negativities and concentrates more on providing an inspiration for women and has focussed on issues such as HIV/AIDS and violence against women.

The Vote

Women have come a long way from the time when they were confined to the home and were unable to vote or make their mark in public life. The vote is perhaps the single most important achievement for women, and while many of us today may take this for granted, it was not an easy walk over for those women of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century who had to fight hard and brave great dangers. We go back to the “Suffragettes,” a derogative name given to such stalwarts as Millicent Fawcett, Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughters Christabel and Sylvia who led the fight for the right to vote. They started out in peaceful protest but turned violent. But it was the participation of women in the First World War (1914) that earned them the right to vote. As a result of their contributions, the Representation of the People’s Act was passed in 1918 and women over thirty years were allowed to vote. In England, as in many other countries, women have the same franchise as men, that is, the age for voting in a general election is age eighteen. In SVG the vote for men and women. Universal adult Suffrage, came in 1951.

Since 1918, women have continued to gain more rights, and they have been able to gain access to some areas that were dominated by men, but they are still a minority in some areas. Very few are head of large businesses. There is only one female government minister, and there has been no female Prime Minister or Governor General, although there is a female Governor General’s Deputy.

Poverty

In SVG, there has been equal access of the sexes to education, and sometimes females appear to be doing better than the males. Poverty appears to be affecting women more than men, especially where they are the head of the home and are single parents. There is the need to raise the economic level of women, especially in rural areas.

Domestic Violence

The incidence of domestic violence against women is also an area of concern. There are women who suffer silently because they are dependent on men for money to support the children and the home. When women are empowered economically, then domestic violence would eventually fade away.

My advice to women is to get an education or some training in a skill so that you will be able to obtain an income. Be respectful and polite to other women and all others. Most importantly, do your best in what ever you do.

Ada Johnson is a solicitor and barrister-at-law.
E-mail address is: exploringthelaw@yahoo.com

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