International Women’s Day 2022 meets the women of our planet and their precious children closer to a nuclear Armageddon than the world has been for six decades now. Even as arguments rage about the rights and wrongs of the war in Ukraine, it is again being borne out that in addition to the direct casualties of the war, millions of women and children are becoming affected by what is chillingly described as the “collateral damage” of armed conflict.
In almost a half of a century since the United Nations officially recognized International Women’s Day (IWD) there have been undeniable advances in the status of women worldwide. Yet two decades after we have entered the 21st century, billions of women still wallow in abject poverty, their children plagued by disease and hunger, suffering from the lack of adequate supporting social services as in education and health, thus condemning them to an unacceptable quality of life.
In addition, women and their girl children continue to be the primary victims of physical and sexual abuse, a natural result of their unequal status in power relations, irrespective of the “impressive” number of laws passed. Trafficking of women and especially young girls continues in spite of global efforts to put an end to this heinous practice. In fact, there are areas in the world where such sexual exploitation is very much a part of the “tourism” experience.
As the world recoils in horror at the frightening possibility of the armed conflict in Ukraine extending to a thermo-nuclear conflict which can virtually wipe out the world as we know it, the relevance of the IWD theme, “gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow”, becomes clearer.
The inequality in gender relations has left men continuing to exercise the levers of power including being able to press the buttons controlling the weapons of mass destruction. While women have risen to positions of prominence worldwide, including the Vice Presidency of the most powerful country on earth and the Presidency of the European Union, their advances have largely been on an individual level.
Those who have benefitted from the advances of women need to give practical support to the effort to mobilize the women of the world in organized fashion. The aim would be to influence policy in tangible means, to achieve parity in gender relations, to employ resources to arrest the destructive effects of climate change, to prevent wars of destruction and instead to wage war on the scourges which women and their children suffer. Only then will we be able to ensure a sustainable future for all.
Let IWD 2022, be not only a celebration of women’s achievements so far but also a reflection and resolution to do our best to attain the wider goals.
Powerful call for more support of Woman’s Sport
A more fitting use of International Women’s day could not have been imagined than what has transpired in the world of women’s sports these past two weeks!
First, locally, a bareboned Vincentian national netball team romped home with the OECS title, in spite of being “scarce” of reserve players. Then on IWD itself, the West Indies female cricket team followed up its upset victory over New Zealand in the opening match of the World Cup with a stunning defeat of champions, England.
In the Caribbean and in SVG in particular, women’s sport has always had to take back seat to the male versions, struggling on handouts to fund participation of national teams in regional tournaments and in dire need for support to lasting programmes. Every one of the sports in which our women are involved suffer in this regard, though the men are not always much better off. In addition, it is men’s sport which hog the headlines, even when women are doing better.
But women in sport are fighting back. Recently the USA national women’s soccer team won a long-drawn-out battle for equal pay with their male counterparts. Also, in that country female basketballers in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) have launched a campaign promoting women’s basketball as “the future” of basketball.
There have been some encouraging developments locally and regionally in recent times including increased support for football and cricket from their respective regional affiliates. But it is important that solid foundations are laid, including organized structures especially in schools. No matter how much money is deployed, sport can only prosper if it is built in schools and the communities. Netball certainly needs such investment if we are to regain the “glory days” when SVG competed toe-to-toe with Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago.
Congrats to our national netballers and we wish our regional women’s cricketers even more success in the World Cup.
Renwick Rose is a community activist and social commentator.