Fri 16th Nov 2007
You can tell the condition of a nation by looking at the status of its women. - Jawaharlal Nehru, First Prime Minister of India
From north to south and east to west in SVG, the cries of the people are loud and clear. The socio-economic pressure is unbearable. What are these socio-economic pressures? They are high rates of unemployment, high cost of living, the fear factor of crime, declining freedom of expression, the devastating imbalance in our living environment and no inspiration for the youth. Women and girls are the most affected.
The average wage income for women is much less than men and women often lack representation at decision-making levels. Development projects in SVG do not focus on the gender imbalance within society. Government policy should assist poor families more, especially female-headed poor families. The ULP government should be supporting activities in SVG that enable poorer women with children to secure financial income for themselves. There needs to be better access to child-care and early education for women of female-headed households and greater support to better their education. Many families have complained to the SVG Green Party of trying their very best to make ends meet. Everyone is asking the question what has gone wrong? What are we doing wrong in SVG?
The status of women in society is not equal to men. SVG Green party has called before for women to be equally represented on statutory boards. Although some women have higher status jobs, SVG needs more. It is positive role models that give young women and girls inspiration and hope. When they see what other women have achieved they realise that they can achieve too. Young women are being failed by the ULP regime and the lack of inspiration for young women and girls is a significant factor in causing the high teenage pregnancy rate in SVG.
Women are the victim of the majority of crime. It is extremely disturbing that females from as young as 13 are victims of violent sexual crime, and even elderly women are experiencing crime. We have already noted the United Nations and World Bank report showing that SVG has one of the worst rape rates in the Caribbean - 8 times the worldwide average.
There can be no doubt that many women and girls see no inspiration that can propel and empower them to a safer and brighter future. This is just another area where the short-sighted ULP regime is lacking. Unless we address gender imbalances in our society and equip women with the tools of empowerment, SVG will never meaningfully address the serious gender-crime situation in our country. Fear of violence suppresses the aspirations of all women.
An SVG Green party government would work towards empowering women, as this a critical factor in freeing women in SVG who are caught in the cycle of poverty and hunger. Providing women with access to economic and educational opportunities, as well as the autonomy needed to take advantage of such opportunities, is essential for SVG to eradicate poverty.