Understanding the Law
March 12, 2010
International Women’s Day

INTERNATIONAL Women’s Day was celebrated on Monday, March 8, 2010. The practice of observing a national day for women in the USA started in February 1909 and in 1910 a unanimous resolution of women meeting at Copenhagen passed a resolution for International Women’s day to be celebrated on 8th March every year. A call was made for the right to work to be trained, to vote and to end discrimination.{{more}} The day is not a public holiday but attention is drawn to the works and achievement of women. The theme this year is equal rights, equal opportunities and progress for all. In some cultures women are given gifts and treated in the same way mothers are treated on Mother’s Day.

There is quite a great deal of work to be done in SVG to call attention to women on that day. There were some scattered celebrations and I must congratulate BRAGSA for seeing it fit to call their womenfolk together during their lunch break to observe the day.

March for equal rights, equal opportunities and progress for all

There was a march in Kingstown organized by the Women’s Movement but from all account it was poorly attended. Perhaps the message was not well circulated and I would hope that next time around more women would participate in any function organized on this occasion. I am urging women in SVG both old and young to keep March 8th always in their thoughts. We have come a long way because there were times when women were not considered worthy to cross the portals of some educational institutions or to take up certain jobs outside the home. We need to find ways and means to build our inner strength and our relations with one another. Perhaps if we understand the history of the struggle of those women who have gone before us we would not take the right to education and to vote for granted. In fact there is still much more work to be done because women are still few in leadership role and equality is still not complete.

In pre-twentieth century cultures women were confined to work in the home or at menial jobs outside the home. There was a general belief among men that women were incapable of performing and that they were intellectually inferior and there were all kinds of myth and misconception associated with women. In Greek mythology it was said that Pandora opened the forbidden box and let loose all the plague and unhappiness to human beings. Stereotypes were perpetuated over the years and women were seen as best suited to the raising of children and taking care of the homes as mothers and wives while men were associated with politics, policy making, business and other endeavours outside the home. Women did not have the right to vote and they could not own property. Because of pregnancy and motherhood it was felt that women would be absent too often from the job.

We know today from the stalwart contributions of women that they are capable and able to perform in every area but women continue to be left out of some leadership positions and it is only when there is no male to fill a position that women are considered. In the USA there has never been a female head of state so too in St. Vincent there has never been a female Prime Minister. History has shown some capable and powerful women such as Queen Elizabeth the first and second who performed ably in their role as head of state.

Since the sixteenth century women have shown a desire to break through the preserves of men but it was towards the end of the 19th century that significant progress was made. The movement for more rights appeared to intensify in Western cultures and women organization sprang up demanding the right to vote. One outstanding leader was Millicent Fawcett who led the national Union of Women’s suffrage in England. She argued that if parliament makes the laws and they have to be obeyed by women then women should be part of the process.

Would continue next week.


Ada Johnson is a solicitor and barrister-at-law.
E-mail address is: [email protected]