Women's Millennium Caucus puts focus on rights, equality

Guyana Chronicle
April 18, 2000

CHIEF Justice Desiree Bernard reiterated Saturday that standards have fallen in the Guyanese society.

"...we are at a stage where children are growing up without values and knowing the difference between right and wrong," she told a predominantly female gathering at the second `Women's Millennium Caucus' (WMC) national consultation' at Hotel Tower, Main Street, Georgetown.

Ms Bernard, declaring that young people know absolutely nothing about how to conduct themselves, urged other persons to pause and do something whenever they are confronted with wrong things.

The Chief Justice said women's development is everybody's concern and she commended the few men who attended the event.

Women's movements have grown throughout the world but many are still unaware of their rights not only in the legal department but with regard to health and education, among other areas, she remarked.

Justice Bernard added that child rearing is far more important that child bearing and said all associations must embark on programmes that will educate women, especially the young ones, about the responsibilities that come with motherhood.

She observed that young women do not have the culture of saving and most of them barely survive economically. They need to be educated on how to prioritise and manage their finances successfully.

The Chief Justice said young people have become "money oriented" and think they are doing the right thing.

She acknowledged the many problems in this society that need to be addressed and agreed each one of them should be identified and corrected.

Bernard said there is an increasing necessity for senior citizens' homes and she challenged organisations to examine ways in which they can help the elderly.

"It is sad to see the conditions under which elderly persons, who contributed to society, dwell," she said, suggesting that there are little things which can be done to make their lives better.

Member of WMC and former Mayor of Georgetown, Mrs Mavis Benn, commenting on the theme `Women's Action Agenda for the new Millennium', said globalisation is making a serious impact on women and the female sex and they have to know how to prepare themselves for an active role in the process.

Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development, Mrs Philomena Sahoye-Shury pointed out that WMC invited men so they can understand what women are about, because the association, every month, prepares programmes to help not only theirs but Guyana's development.

Sahoye-Shury said women would never get their rightful place in society unless organisations and individuals come together in unity and address issues that are affecting them.

The Member of Parliament (MP) challenged everybody to extend a helping hand, especially single parents who are struggling to bring up children.

"A mother could only call herself a mother when she loves not only her child but every child," Sahoye-Shury posited, arguing that women cry out for help because they are thinking of their children.

Attorney-at-law Ms Anande Trotman, in her report on WMC activities since last September, said the focus is more on where they are going.

They have produced several television and radio programmes on issues that affect women on a daily basis and WMC recently met with the Minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance (Mr Saisnarine Kowlessar) to discuss matters surrounding gender.

Another member, Mrs Sheila Chapman-Wong reported on events that transpired at last September's `Vital Voice Caribbean Conference' and explained that WMC was established here to enhance the economic, political and social leadership of women across all dividing lines and use use the grouping as a base from which to foster social justice, gender equality and ethnic security