PRESS RELEASE INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY People’s National Congress Reform Congress Place, Sophia, Georgetown, Guyana. Friday, March 5, 2004

Monday, March 8, 2004 is International Women’s Day and we, the members of the National Congress of Women (NCW) join women throughout the world in observance of this day.

It was in 1910 in Denmark that a group of women led by Clara Zetkin initiated this day as a protest to call attention to the discrimination and indignities meted out to women in their work places. We in Guyana have observed it for more than two decades when we pay tribute to our women, especially those stalwart women, who have worked, and continue to work, to improve the lot of our women folk and who continue to inspire us all.

This is the first year the NCW is observing this event without our mentor and counselor, Ms. Viola Burnham. Her passing has been a great loss to us. We pledge to honour her memory by working steadfastly to fulfill her ideals.

There is no doubt that we have come a long way since those early days of terrible discrimination, but much more needs to be done to ensure that our male-dominated society does not only pay lip service to the concept of women equality but that it recognizes the tremendous potential of having all 51% of us prepared and involved to make a more significant contribution to our country’s development.

Almost without exception, our communities across Guyana need socially-conscious citizens, willing to contribute and participate. Our women must assert themselves, both inside and outside the home, claiming identities as individuals and as valued members of community.

Many of our women are more than willing to be involved; there is no lack of enthusiasm. But enthusiasm, while a necessary perquisite, is not enough. We must be better prepared mentally to participate meaningfully.

We are happy to see some deliberate efforts made to prepare women for this involvement. The recent constitutional provision that women must make up one third of the lists of all parties is a positive step forward. Unhappily, it was only the People’s National Congress Reform who took this guarantee to its logical end by having one third of its Parliamentarians as women. We are hopeful, indeed determined, to ensure that there is even greater balance next time round.

As we celebrate this year, we urge women to re-commit themselves to becoming more fully involved in the development of all aspects of our society.

Happy International Women’s Day!

People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia,
Georgetown, Guyana.
Friday, March 5, 2004