This week we examine the real significance of celebrating Women’s Day since women continue to face unsurmountable challenges. It’s all well and good to listen to the many speeches made on March 08, but just how are they helping to alleviate spousal abuse, rape and sexual abuse? Who will bring changes in society’s views on domestic violence and violence against women?
While the struggle focusses on equality and equity for all women, can anybody in our society seriously say that women are no longer the home-maker? The reality now is that women are faced with the added burden of having a job while they raise children and keep a nice home since culture speaks loudly here.
The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced a new normal which adds to the problems faced by women as they scramble with the new approach to educate their children. The Education Minister who is a woman simplified the problem where children are left alone at home by suggesting that parents should apply the arrangements they have in place for school vacation in August. In examining that suggestion it is clear that even the Minister is not aware that the new normal calls for social distancing. It is clearly not time to send children to the neighbours’ home.
The pandemic has placed severe strains on single parent homes as many women are experiencing job insecurity and unemployment. They probable got some social assistance, but with the uncertainty of the moment, many women must now learn to cut and contrive as they push and go through. While this is no fault of anyone, the conversation must be more real in discussing their problems and there must be suggestions for solutions. The availability of safety net, shelters and accommodations is an essential part of a holistic response to women facing violence within their homes. Shelters provide a space for women to be protected while rebuilding a life independent of their abusers and also a home for those who were evicted as a result of failing to pay the monthly rent.
Professor Heintz, University of Massachusetts, is quoted as saying that the COVID-19 pandemic is a multi-dimensional crisis which could intensify existing socioeconomic inequalities and vulnerabilities. Heintz noted the concurrent care crisis related to unpaid care work in the home, which includes direct and indirect caregiving services and home-schooling is predominantly performed by women. COVID-19 restrictions have caused the closure of informal and formal sectors, which have direct financial implications for women and can therefore perpetuate further socio-economic inequalities.
One writer says that in line of this battle are the Caribbean NGOs assisting and representing women during this period. However, despite the range of services, research done by a regional umbrella body of non-governmental organisation reveals that many of the region’s NGOs struggle to achieve their mission due to limited funding. Therefore, there is a need to bolster the support of these small NGOs who serve and protect women.
The Caribbean Policy Development Centre (CPDC), which is headquartered in Barbados, advocates on a number of development issues including gender equality, and provides technical assistance and small grant support to women’s organisations across the Caribbean. It calls on Governments to recognise grassroots and women’s organisations as essential services and urges the utilisation of gender-responsive budgeting in their development responses. This was an accomplishment of the glorious Revolution in Grenada and stands as proof that with some political will it can be done again in Grenada.
According to the National Democratic Congress (NDC) this year’s theme is appropriate as there are so many issues and injustices that confront our women today that must be challenged. The NDC which is the alternative political party is calling on women to stand up and challenge all forms of abuse and inequality that are meted out to them. In her address, the President of the Women’s’ Arm of the party recognised some of the women who have served only in politics and in the Public service “Women like Sister Joan Purcell, Ann Peters, Sister Gloria Payne Benfield, Pauline Andrew, Margaret Neckles, Franka Alexis Bernadine, Ann John and Claudette Joseph.” It would be good if next year the party can lower its eyes and look at the problems on the ground.
The official Opposition Leader displayed a deafening silence this year on the celebration of International Women’s Day. He probably could have made reference to the non-payment of compensation benefits to a woman who has given thirty years of dedicated service to the Grenada Public Service and by extension the Government and people of Grenada as a senior Public Officer.
After a drawn out procedure the Court declared that Gemma Bain-Thomas who served as Cabinet Secretary to the NDC Government, was unconstitutionally removed from the Public Service and has awarded her compensation for the unlawful actions against her by the NNP Government. She seems to be alone in a battle to get the Government to pay the court approved compensation. Bain-Thomas has been struggling for almost three years to upkeep her family without any of the awarded compensation. Then who remembers the Judy Benoit’s story when she took the Government to court for wrongful dismissal some six years ago. While the court ruled that she had a case and should be heard, to date she has not been given a hearing.
Can women in leadership really achieve an equal future in a male-dominated world?