First Lady leads International Women’s Day march

Scores of men and women joined in a march along Main Street, Georgetown, Sunday,  to observe this year’s International Women’s Day,  spreading messages of women empowerment and their role in society.

The march which was led by First Lady, Mrs. Arya Ali, commenced at the Bank of Guyana, Main and High Street and concluded at the Georgetown Seawall Bandstand, Kingston.

Minister within the Ministry of Housing and Water, Susan Rodrigues, M.P., British High Commissioner toGuyana, Mrs.Jane Miller (OBE), and US AmbassadortoGuyana, Mrs. Sarah-Ann Lynch also joined the procession.   

Delivering the feature address, Mrs. Ali said gender equality is an issue the government intends to address  by ensuring  Guyanese women and girls are given opportunities to acquire skills and knowledge to aid in the country’s development.

“We need to keep fighting on one front. We need to routinely engage in activities like these, which amplify the role of women in society and raise awareness about the issues which affect us. On the other hand, we as women and leaders must continue to create opportunities to support the advancement of other women and girls.”

She added that “our fight will be long and brutal. It will continue to face resistance from every corner where patriarchy raises its head. But we must remain steadfast and unshakeable. It is only by doing that will gender equality be achieved and victory guaranteed.”

First Lady of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, Mrs. Arya Ali

According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report for 2021, it will take at least 100 years to obtain gender equality. From a global standpoint, only 55 per cent of women are engaged in the labour market, as opposed to 78 per cent of men.  

Mrs. Ali believes this can be changed and as such, urged everyone, including from  private and public organisations to advocate for this.

“With our country experiencing unprecedented growth and rapid transformation, it is incumbent on us, particularly leaders and officials to ensure that our women and girls are not excluded from the exciting opportunities which are life-changing.”

Recently, the First Lady signed a contract with the Atlantic Alliance (AA) Maritime & Offshore Training School to enable 100 indigenous women to be equipped with skills to support the country’s oil and gas industry.

Another significant initiative undertaken by the First Lady is the menstrual hygiene programme aimed at ending period poverty.

British High Commissioner to Guyana, Mrs. Jane Miller underscored the importance of IWD,  adding that the country has shown significant achievements by placing women on the forefront.

British High Commissioner to Guyana, Mrs Jane Miller

“We know that there is still gender-based violence, we know that there is still discrimination against women, so, as we celebrate women, we need to remember that there is still more to be done,” she said.

US Ambassador Lynch stated that “the experience in perspectives of women bring different and equally important to those of men to the table in countries that deserve to benefit from the leadership of women and the innovative spark women add to prosperity.”

United States Ambassador to Guyana, Mrs. Sarah-Ann Lynch

Speaking with DPI, Minister Rodrigues said the overwhelming response shown is a demonstration of what men and women alike are willing to do to have gender equality.

 “We are going to continue fighting to ensure that we bridge that gender gap to ensure that women are treated with respect, no discrimination, no violence and that women get equal pay for equal work. So, we are going to continue that fight and as many times we have been here before… not to reminiscence about the past, but build on the progress we have made so far,” she said.

Minister within Ministry of Housing and Water, Susan Rodrigues, M.P.

Ms. Thandi McAllister, a participant, said that she was “glad that Guyanese from all walks of life came out to be a part of this historic moment. I am quite that as we move forward as a country, as a people under the One Guyana umbrella that our women would lead in uniting our people.”

March 8 marks IWD where the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women are celebrated.  This year’s theme is “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow with campaign theme being #BreakTheBias”.

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