|PM hails Women’s Day |
By SEAN DOUGLAS Saturday, March 8 2014
PRIME Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar urged everyone to be an advocate for change, in her message for today’s International Women’s Day (March 8th).
“For over 100 years, March 8th has been recognised worldwide as a day for celebrating the many successes of women, while acknowledging that there is still much to do as we strive towards true equality,” she said in a statement yesterday.
Not only women, but everyone can help advance women’s rights, she said, by using a vast array of communication channels, equality research, campaigns and corporate responsibility initiatives.
Women remain the largest target group of physical and sexual violence globally, lamented Persad-Bissessar, a report, ‘Not A Minute More: Ending Violence Against Women”, by the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM). The report says: “Throughout the world, one in three women will be raped, beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime. Violence against women has become as much a pandemic as HIV/AIDS, or malaria. But still it is downplayed by the public at large, and policy makers who fail to create and fund programmes to eradicate it.”
Persad-Bissessar said women face many ingrained prejudices. “For example, in the workplace, women report being paid less than their male counterparts, in the same positions and fields.”
The proverbial glass ceiling is still a reality for many, with women sometimes not afforded the opportunity of promotion, despite having the required qualifications. “Additionally, many women continue to report injustices in the workplace, such as the denial of paid maternity leave.”
Persad-Bissessar also listed women’s successes.
“In the past, for example, alarming numbers of women across the globe were denied education even at a basic level. Today, while education is still not entirely available for girls in some regions, the increasing numbers of women pursuing secondary and tertiary education all over the world is a source of great encouragement, as it suggests that the availability to education is on the rise.”
Persad-Bissessar hailed an increase in legislation that protects women and girls from abuse and stigma. “As such, more women feel sufficiently empowered to speak out, and share their stories. This allows for many social ills to be confronted as the victims are less frequently shamed into silence.”
She hailed the emergence of more female entrepreneurs, despite the corporate world being a tough place for women.
In the business sector, women are referred to as examples of economic locomotives, playing a pivotal role in the food, agriculture and manufacturing industries to name a few.
“Most of all, women are no longer forced to choose between having a professional career, and being a wife, or mother,” she remarked. “Once thought to be mutually exclusive activities, the working family woman is now seen as a valuable asset as she is perceived to be particularly well-versed in the field of problem resolution.”
Persad-Bissessar said that as true equality for women draws closer, one realises that women’s rights help both the individual and the wider society. “As such, we must all do whatever we can to ensure that each member of our society is best equipped to lead a positive and fruitful life regardless of their sex.”
While TT has many successful women, the system itself militates against women rising. “Too often, women give up, and don’t pursue their dreams,” said Persad-Bissessar. “I would like to see more women get involved in politics at the highest levels, so that the country would see us for what we are, and not pay attention to the shoes we wear and the dress we choose.”
The Informative Breast-feeding Service (TIBS) is marking today with a statement,
“Breastfeeding - Natural, Healthy and Just”.
Saying the theme of International Women’s Day 2014 is “Equality For Women Is Progress For All”, recalls the link between equality and progress, TIBS said equality for breast-feeding women helps all humanity.
“Women’s inequality is most sharply felt when a woman in work becomes a mother,” remarked TIBS. “Society is organized in a way that increasingly values paid work over working for love, care, families and communities.”
Yet breast-feeding is a natural, healthy and just way that puts the mother and infant at the centre of our common space and must be protected, promoted and supported.
TIBS and the World Alliance For Breastfeeding Action (WABA) urged individuals and communities to recognise the value of breastfeeding.