The National Congress of Women (NCW), the women’s arm of the People’s National Congress Reform, salutes all women in Guyana and throughout the world as we observe International Women’s Day (IWD) 2010, on Monday March 8, 2010.

As we think of International Women’s Day 2010, we must remember Clara Zetkin and those women in Germany who initiated the observance of this day. We also salute our own Guyanese women: those stalwarts of the PNC Women’s Auxiliary and the WRSM; the forerunners to our organization, the late Jane Phillips-Gay, Winifred Gaskin, Viola Burnham, Shirley Field-Ridley and Urmia Johnson, Yvonne Harewood-Benn, and others; those women who worked hard for the advancement of the women in Guyana and our own organisation.

On this occasion of International Women’s Day, we also endorse the United Nations theme for International Women’s Day 2010 – “Equal rights, Equal opportunities: Progress for all”. By embracing this theme, women all over the world could truly celebrate IWD 2010 by reflecting on their collective and individual achievements while making plans for a better future.

As we observe this day, let us be reminded of the work done by the Administration of the People’s National Congress in recognising the value and importance of women’s contributions for the developmental process in Guyana thus putting meaning to this year’s theme.

On this occasion, the NCW recalls some of the important policy steps which were taken for the advancement of women in Guyana. The State Paper on Equality for Women in 1976; the Enshrinement of the principle of equality for women under Article 29 of the 1980 Constitution of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana; The establishment of the Women’s Affairs Bureau; the signing and ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women in 1980; Representation on the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women in 1982; The Removal of Discrimination Against Children Born out of Wedlock Act in 1983; and, the Equal Rights and the Married Persons (Property) Amendment Acts of 1990, giving women a better opportunity to benefit during the division of property.

The People’s National Congress Reform and its women’s arm, the NCW, also supported the Domestic Violence Act which was passed in Parliament in 1996. We, unequivocally, condemn the nature of Domestic Violence in Guyana, which is now pervasive and urge the present Administration to take immediate action and implement the policies necessary to end this scourge. It is shameful that, despite all the work done by our predecessors, there are still some women who cannot enjoy the fruits of their labour.

Let us continue to remember those who worked for better lives for their sisters and those who lost their lives in the struggles. Let us salute all those unsung heroines and demand justice for all women. We vehemently condemn the rise in domestic violence, rape, carnal knowledge, crime, discrimination, corruption, to name a few of the serious problems facing this Dear Land of Ours. We pray that those guilty of such crimes will be brought speedily to justice.

As we observe International Women’s Day 2010, let us take a closer look into ourselves rather than at ourselves. As mothers, sisters, daughters, women, let us look closely at our roles in families and in society. Let us examine the contention that single mothers are to blame for dysfunctional societies; while reminding ourselves that many single mothers have produced children who are worthy citizens. Let us devote our energies and intellect to creating the impetus to overcome the difficulties which now abound in our society.

We must engage in more introspection and emulation of the virtues of courage and determination, so evident in our predecessors, in our quest for change and a better life for all Guyanese.

A Happy International Women’s Day 2010 to all!

National Congress of Women
Women’s Arm of the People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia
Georgetown, Guyana
Friday 5 March 2010