Joint Press Release - International Woman’s Day
The Lesbian Bisexual and Transgender (LBT) Women’s Network (GY Sista Friends), Stella’s Sisterhood for Service and Support (S4) Foundation, Red Thread, Guyana Rainbow Foundation (GuyBow) and the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) unite in celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of Guyanese women on the occasion of International Women’s Day (IWD), notwithstanding the challenges women face living in our patriarchal society. Our groups remain committed to advancing progress for all women in every sphere of their lives. IWD is commemorated annually on March 8.
Despite efforts to empower women, leading roles in many sectors of the formal economy are still heavily dominated by men. In order to create meaningful, positive change, gender equality must also result in both equality of opportunity and outcome for women and men alike. Women must have equal access to the same opportunities, as well as equal pay for work of the same value, as men. “We also need to value women’s caring work,” said Karen De Souza, National Coordinator of Red Thread. “Women are often trapped in abusive relationships because of their economic circumstances, so valuing the caring work that women do in their homes and communities is critical to ending violence” she added.
Guyana has good laws on its books aimed at eradicating violence against women. However, gender-based violence has reached pandemic proportions. Imarah Radix, Project Coordinator of the S4 Foundation vehemently stated that, “we need to stop hitting and hurting women. Each one of us has a role to play in ending domestic violence and we must recognise this. We cannot wait on the police or the courts to make a judgment; as the facts have shown that even though someone may have a court order, they are killed in the middle of the night, at home, in bed, by their partners.”
Colleen McEwan, Executive Director of GuyBow and member of GY Sista Friends pointed out that, “we must change our attitudes towards discrimination and violence against all women, including lesbian, bisexual and transgender women. We must challenge discrimination and violence wherever and whenever it raises its ugly head,” she added.
The United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention of the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 1979, to which Guyana is a party. The CEDAW committee meets regularly – one year after a country ratifies the Convention and every four years thereafter – to review reports submitted by governments on progress towards its implementation. In its most recent review of Guyana in New York in July 2012, the CEDAW Committee in its concluding observations urged Guyana “to provide effective protection against violence and discrimination against all groups of women through the enactment of comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation that includes the prohibition of all forms of discrimination against them and the decriminalization of consensual adult same sex relations...”
We challenge every person to play their part in ensuring that we continue to create a society where women are empowered and have equal opportunities to their male counterparts. Every Guyanese woman has the right to the freedoms as outlined in the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights and should be protected, regardless of their differences.