Message for International Women’s Day by SLPWO President Della Ashby

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Message for International Women’s Day by SLPWO President Della Ashby

(PRESS RELEASE VIA SNO) – On this March 8, I wish all women in our beautiful country and the diaspora a wonderful International Women’s Day.

This year the theme of IWD is “Press for Progress”. While this may seem as a new mantra for our male counterparts, as women we know that this is our life’s motto. From the moment our parents are told “it’s a girl” these words, though maybe not always said this exact same way, are ever sung in our ears. For as women, living in a male dominated society, we unfortunately will spend most of our lives fighting this battle, continuously pressing, pushing, and pulling for progress.

As the ‘fairer” of the species, we have to be twice as good as our men to receive half of what they enjoy. We have to give twice as much to receive half of what they do. Is this fair? You might ask “NO IT’S NOT”, is it right? NO IT’S NOT, is it something that we should continue to perpetuate? “ABSOLUTELY NOT”. And so for this reason on March 8, millions of women around the world are going to stand up and be counted as they press for progress and make a concerted effort to create a better world and future for our many daughters who will come after us.

One of the goals of IWD is to build momentum for the effective implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, paying special attention to goal #5 “achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls”. In a society where our women and girls are objectified, body shamed, slut shamed, beaten and battered for one reason or another, sold into slavery of many kinds e.g. prostitution, child marriage and domestic work to name a few, this goal is timely and of utmost importance. And we in our small island of St. Lucia are not removed or immune to some of those ills.

Our unfortunate reality however, is that many of those ills are perpetrated by the very entity that is supposed to put measures in place to safeguard, protect and assist in our empowerment. When the government of any country is guilty of treating its women as lesser than, how can the rest of the citizenry look upon them as the pillars of society, as leaders, as a contributing majority to the country’s growth and development.

When our women, who within most households are the sole breadwinners, cannot rely on or trust the sitting administration to protect their right and ability to feed their families, we are in serious trouble. When our young girls go into our government offices, and are not protected from powerful men who seek to objectify and use them for their own personal pleasures, we are in serious trouble. When our women themselves hold what is to be some of the highest offices in our land, but little respect is given to them, their power is taken away and they are left to dance to the tune of THE MAN’S SONG we are in serious trouble.

When one of our greatest stalwarts and achievements as a country is embodied in the beauty, humility and greatness of a woman, but she is relegated to being thrown out of office only to be replaced by a man, who clearly is unable to perform the role half as well as she did or for as long, we are most definitely in serious trouble. When we look about us and we see a future that looks so bleak and daunting, a future that is seemed to have the aim of setting us back centuries, one can only feel compelled to throw our hands up in submission.

However, on this day, this day that is set aside for all women, from every walk of life, every race, every ethnicity, every age, every religion, to be celebrated, to be honoured, to be lifted up in admiration, I say to you my sisters fear not, for the race is not for the swift but for those who can endure.

This battle is not one to be fought alone, but with the joining in unison with our men and boys as we come together as one people to make for a better society. This cause is not championed only by the few, but by all those who breathe, live, work and love. For we were all born of a woman, cared for by a woman, taught by a woman and nurtured by a woman. We have all laid in the bosom of a woman, benefited from the wisdom of a woman and learned to strive for the best through the love of a woman.

As a nation, which was built on the backs of all our citizens, our women have and continue to play a very vital and important role in the sustainable development and building of our country. Our women continue to strive for greatness to make our country proud and to live up to the many expectations levelled at our feet.

Each achievement, each day that we continue to shine, each day we continue to give of our best is a day that brings us closer to achieving the goal of attaining gender equality and empowerment for our women and girls. Each day we break barriers and achieve new milestones in each of our lives, we come closer to achieving this goal.

The logo for IWD is a rainbow coloured butterfly and in the words of Mohammed Ali I say to you “fly like a butterfly, sting like a bee. The hands can’t hit what the eyes can’t see”. As we continue with this fight, let us do it with the gracefulness of a butterfly in flight, but with the venom of a bee sting, continuing to bring our issues and challenges, along with our achievements to the fore. To the minds and knowledge of those around us making it as equally loud a mantra as “Press for progress”. Knowledge is power and it is only with the knowledge of the importance of women, can we begin to change our attitudes and behaviours towards the beauty, grace, strength, wisdom and power of our women.

Enjoy your International Women’s Day, join the march this afternoon, and let us stand together as one nation as we work towards achieving gender equality, empowerment for our women and girls and as we continue to press for progress.

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