KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – Organisers of a historic Women’s Congress slated for March 21-22 have defended the focus on females.
“I believe that the congress for men can come if men demand it and if men say they want it,” Nelcia Robinson-Hazel, president of the National Council of Women (NCW) and chair of the congress organizing committee said at the media launch of the event last Tuesday.
She further noted that males dominate many organisations, including Parliament, where only three of the 22 Members are female.
Robinson-Hazel was responding at the media launch – where all of the journalists were male – to a question about why hold a congress for just women.
She said the Women’s Congress is an initiative of NCW, which identified a need for the event.
In response to another reporter’s question about why not expend energies on “broader issues of gender rather than the repetition and emphasis on women,” Robinson-Hazel said that the NCW does address broader issues.
She pointed to the domestic violence intervention and prevention workshops last year, which encouraged the participation of males.
There is also a project that is looking for a resource centre for men and boys, Robinson-Hazel further stated. “We recognise that if we want to achieve the gender equality and the gender equity that is needed in the country and indeed in the world, that we have to engage as well with the males,” she said,
Such engagement takes resources at all levels, Robinson-Hazel noted. “The willingness of our brothers to work along with us and invest their resources in kind … can go a long way and the financial resources as well will be necessary. There are donors who would give you money to do work with women [only]. They are still in that mode.”
Meanwhile, Yoel Perez Marcano, Venezuela’s ambassador to this country, who is also a member of the organising committee, said that studies by United Nations and the organisation of American States have concluded that “the general crisis of the world” affect women most in the exercise of their political, social, and economic rights.
He said that women are affected in terms of access to education, work, and equal opportunities to solve problems confronting them.
The diplomat said that this is not only a problem In St. Vincent and the Grenadines but also internationally. Since women are principally responsible for childcare, this limits their involvement in life even as policies are directed towards the incorporation of men at work, he said.
This creates a disequilibrium that affects women’s development opportunity, Marcano said, noting the United Nation Development Goals, which demands that all countries develop public policies to address important problems related to the quality of life of their citizens.
“The victims of such changes are precisely women because the percentage of women as head of homes and impoverished women have increased exponentially. And in this way, having a Women Congress in SVG is a decision to give a lead role to women in the solution of their problems and the problems of Vincentian society,” Marcano said through a translator.
“It is not a meeting to complain or to protest. No! It is to study what are the problems and what are the solutions, to especially take note of the opinions of women to find the answers to the problems. Because, in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the Americas, and the world, without women, there are no solutions. And, with respect to all men, that is why we are having this congress,” the ambassador said.
The Congress will be held under the theme “Women Rising, Crisis and Response-Women as Agents of Change.”