News day / THE EDITOR: On Thursday the world will observe International Women’s Day. Women play a pivotal role in society. While we commemorate their political, social and economic achievements, let us step up our efforts to empower girls/women and create conditions to enable them to realise their full potential.
The theme this year is “Time is Now: Rural and urban activists transforming women’s lives.” The UN rightly states: “This year, International Women’s Day comes on the heels of the unprecedented global movement for women’s rights, equality and justice.”
God inscribed on our hearts a moral order; an order that should lead us to acknowledge and respect the dignity of each person, made in God’s image and likeness. Sadly, around the world many women in both rural and urban settings continue to suffer because of a gross violation of this moral order; a violation which leads, for example, to poverty and social exclusion; discrimination in the workplace; domestic violence, including murders; human trafficking and various forms of enslavement; sexual abuse/exploitation; infanticides of girls and selective abortions of female foetuses; lack of access to basic amenities and other human rights, such as education and so on.
As 21-year-old Malala Yousafzai, the activist for female education and the youngest recipient of the Nobel Prize, said: “I raise up my voice – not so I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard … we cannot succeed when half of us are held back.”
The time is now for men and women to take up the challenge of raising our voices; of being advocates for the voiceless, the downtrodden, and those whose human rights continue to be trampled upon daily. Let’s play our part to educate/socialise our boys/men so that they will respect girls/women as equal partners – each with specific God-given gifts. Our girls and women also need support in developing right relationships.
Each man and woman is born with innate dignity; made to complement each other and to use their gifts/skills to build the common good. The wider community also has a responsibility to foster in our youths self-esteem, self-respect, and respect for others.
Let us resolve to make equality, equity, and complementarity among men and women a reality. Change must begin in the home. Parents/guardians, reflect on the kind of values you are instilling in those in your care. We call on our educational institutions to do more to assist parents in socialising boys and girls in a way that will promote among them positive expectations, attitudes and behaviours towards each other. Communities can do more to foster right relationships between men and women.
If we are to change systems, structures, institutions and public policies that are the root causes of injustice, we must become change agents and be prepared to work alongside rural and urban women as we seek to empower them.
We ourselves must be prepared to lift our heads above the parapet to speak out against injustices and lobby Government to enact/implement legislation, policies, procedures and programmes that will promote authentic integral human development.
We need to move beyond “make-work” programmes if we are to promote sustainable development. Members of the business community must also evaluate their treatment of women in TT.
Pope Francis’ lenten message urges us not to allow our love to grow cold; love of God and love of neighbor. Solidarity means the willingness to see others as another “self” and so to regard injustice committed against another as no less serious than an injustice against one’s self.
We are supposed to hunger and thirst for justice. Therefore, we cannot afford to be indifferent to the needs of our sisters. Let us stand in solidarity with our rural and urban sisters locally and globally.
LEELA RAMDEEN, Chair, CCSJ
Time is now to empower women
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