I wish to salute all the women of Guyana on the occasion of International Women’s Day which was observed on March 8.
This is indeed a good time to reflect on the role and contribution made by women in Guyana in all facets of national life, including in the political arena. It is no exaggeration to say that women have made a significant contribution in the struggle for a free, democratic and cohesive society. The prestigious Time Magazine named the late Mrs Janet Jagan, who passed away during the month of March, as one of sixteen of the world’s most ‘rebellious’ women of all time in honour of her struggle against colonialism, neo-colonialism and authoritarian rule.
Mrs Jagan went on to become the first and only woman to have been elected as executive President of Guyana. Regrettably, due to advancing age and poor health, she was unable to finish her term, but there can be no doubt regarding her sterling contribution to the cause of a better Guyana.
Women in Guyana have come a long way over the decades due in no small way to the strong advocacy role played by Mrs Jagan and others. Women dominate the teaching and nursing professions and for that matter the public service as a whole. Regrettably, salaries remain low, which poses severe challenges for women to make ends meet. This is particularly true of single parent women who work as security guards, domestics and in stores as shop assistants. Many of them earn way below the statutory minimum wage.
It is time for the administration to pay attention to these categories of working women who form a large contingent of the working poor.
Our women deserve better. Despite some progress at the legislative level to protect women and children, there are far too many cases of sexual harassment and abuse inflicted on them.