Very formally, the United Nations Organisation (the UN) has designated March 08 as International Women’s Day – a day which has been traditionally celebrated in Guyana and the world over. The call for March 08 to be designated International Day of Women can be traced to the 2nd International Conference of Socialist Women held in Copenhagen in 1910. Since then this day was dedicated to focus on the many questions and issues related to women across the globe.
We, of the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU), welcome the UN’s recognition of the link a relationship between women’s rights and international peace. Peace has become one of the most urgent questions today for humanity. Unjust imperialist wars and military occupation have laid waste to homes, villages and cities and women, children and civilians are being killed by drones, bombs and bullets. In Iraq, we learn of birth defects of significant numbers of the new born which doctors put to the consequences of uranium tipped bombs used by the aggressors.
The conscience of peace and justice loving peoples cannot but be affected by such realities of today nor can they be silent. Thus, GAWU is pleased to support and be associated with the demand for peace, an end to all unjust wars and military violence. At this time, we reiterate our call and support the view that Latin America and the Caribbean be a Zone of Peace.
This year as we observe International Women’s Day in the midst of the global crisis of capitalism we note that the global female unemployment reaches over 81 million women. More and more women are employed with “flexible” working arrangements, part-time job, etc. Today, women represent the majority of the poor and illiterate population and millions of them have no access to education, healthcare, food, clean water and other basic needs. Millions of women lack maternity protection; thousands of women die from pregnancy and lack of medical care; millions of women are forced to emigrate; millions are victims of violence, abuse, human trafficking and sexual exploitation during armed conflicts and military interventions.
GAWU, Guyana’s leading workers bargaining agent, for hundreds of Guyanese female workers, has recognised the efforts made in our country on behalf of our women and especially our working women. The setting of a minimum wage, women’s right to abort difficult or unwanted pregnancies, their protection from sexual offences with the law prescribing very harsh, commensurate penalties for such offences, to us, are significant measures which will impact positively on the lives and well-being of Guyanese women.
However, we also recognise that there are issues still to attend, to address more comprehensively. This is the issue of domestic violence. While laudable efforts are being made by Government and various organisations and individuals, it remains as an issue in our midst and, we hold the view, that its final eradication will very well require greater efforts from all of us.
On this International Women’s Day, the GAWU is pleased to salute all working women, in the sugar industry and elsewhere, all housewives, indeed, all our women folk in Guyana. We recognise their contribution to Guyana’s development, in the upbringing of our present and future generations, in the political, economic and social spheres of society and in the homes. They are invaluable to society and family.
As we celebrate International Women’s Day in 2014, we should rejoice and reflect on the progress made over recent times. But we need to also recognise that there is need for our women to continue the struggle not only around those questions peculiar to women but also see the bigger picture. We must see the need to join with progressive forces to ensure a world of peace, economic justice, equality, and end to all forms of exploitation and for social progress.
Greetings on this International Women’s Day to all Guyanese women!
Solidarity to the women of the world!
Long live International Women’s Day!