Asks Rochelle Gonzales
INTERNATIONAL Women’s Day is once again upon us, and I can’t help but await it with a blunt expression of nothingness on my face.
They say that a world of good can be wiped out with one bad deed. Well, in St. Lucia and most countries of the world, including some of the most developed, this is exactly the case.
Whilst I must take a minute to give a standing ovation to some of the achievements that women have made in St. Lucia of late, especially this year, I feel a gut-wrenching pain and disappointment over events that continue to blacken not only society but the outlook that many women, children and generally parents may have of our future.
Before delving into the world of women’s woes, here are three highlights of womanhood that put the might of the St. Lucian woman in the spotlight this year:
In January, a study from the International Labour Office in Geneva, Switzerland showed that women are closing the gap on gender equality in the workplace. According to the ILO’s Director General Guy Ryder: “Women are running more businesses and consumer-spending decisions are increasingly in their hands”.
St. Lucia was ranked at number 3 after Jamaica and Colombia showing that 52.3% of management positions are held by women. The study was conducted in 104 countries of the world.
I would like to extend another joyous and heartfelt congratulations to Emma Hippolyte who was the first woman to ever assume the role of Prime Minister (acting) of St. Lucia. This year, you showed every woman and little girl that the sky is definitely the limit and that they too could one day be the next head of our beautiful island with discipline, hard work and perseverance.
I would also like to extend the same sentiments to the island’s first deputy Commissioner of Police, Frances Henry. Women like you give women and girls island-wide a reason to say “Thank You” with pride when people make remarks like “You throw like a girl”, “You hit like a girl” or anything ending with… “like a girl”. You have shown the world what “girls” can do.
Your tough and no-nonsense reputation and stellar track record of getting the job done have also shown the world that women are not the weak china dolls or fragile flowers that we might be perceived to be and that women can indeed hold their own, stand tall and even come out on top in what is known as “a man’s world”
You in particular make me proud because in this day and age, whilst some of our fellow sisters fall victim to a number of social ills, you stand tall as a beacon showing women that we can overcome these ills and should never concede to the obstacles trying to keep us back.
With that said, I am still sorely disheartened at the fact that in 2015, even with women dominating the employment sector, being one of the island’s top protectors and one even running the island, that this pride, dignity of ours is still being so callously violated.
A mother of two’s life will never be the same again for all the wrong reasons after she was raped, whilst a 55 year old mother of five is left battered and fearful for her life allegedly at the hands of a man who lay next to her at night for over a decade and said he “loves” her.
Last year in St Lucia there were nearly 100 cases of reported sexual assault with 9 reported rapes as opposed to 24 in 2013 and whilst there was a noticeable decrease by 15, that figure will only be satisfactory when the number hits zero.
Why should women still walk around in fear of being attacked on the streets simply because they are women and some animalistic man cannot keep his grubby hands to themselves?
Why is it that people still have the mentality that in this day and age, it is all right to raise a hand, foot or weapon on the women? Then again, why do women continue to accept that kind of treatment?
I cannot muster up the strength to say and mean Happy International Women’s Day because womanhood is not happy and until the appropriate actions are taken to protect our women…our mothers, sisters, daughters, grandmothers, aunts and cousins then our future is literally doomed.
I can only hope that it will not take another national tragedy to get the wheels turning towards eradicating violence against women.