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GEORGETOWN, Guyana — All three speakers at the Opening Session of the 23rd Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the CARICOM paid tribute to the women of the region as the opening day of the meeting coincided with the observance of International Women’s Day, yesterday.

Chairman of CARICOM, Desiré Bouterse, President of Suriname began by “hailing up all the women of the region” and in particular the two female Heads of Government Prime Ministers Kamla Persad-Bissessar of Trinidad and Tobago and the Portia Simpson-Miller of Jamaica, a point echoed by the Prime Minister of St Kitts and Nevis, Denzil Douglas.

Bouterse said the successes of the two female leaders at the polls ought to be an occasion for celebration for the women of CARICOM.

He called on his fellow leaders to join him in renewed commitment to the region that “must begin with the recognition of the role, realities and just aspirations of our sisters, especially those we see so little of on such occasions, our sisters who live removed from the coast in our hinterland and in our indigenous and traditional communities.”

He further stated: “Let us commit to marking this day, March 8th, as a day that CARICOM Heads committed to a new partnership with our women.”

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Bouterse said it was the women who stood firm through all the trials from slavery and indentureship, and through the independence struggles. He said they continued to be mostly responsible for the transmission of knowledge in the home, in the community and in the classroom.

“They are still the foundation of all care given, whether this work is paid for or not. And were we to truly count and value their labor, we would recognize how much the women of this Region contribute to our well being, and how much they are owed and deserve”, he added.

“How can we pay this historic debt to our women – our grandmothers, mothers, sisters, daughters? We can begin by honoring the commitments we have made in this Region to make our countries safe,” he further stated, but added, perhaps the greatest intervention could come from improving the economic circumstances of poor and vulnerable families throughout the region.

CARICOM Secretary-General Irwin LaRocque recognised all the women of the Community and pointed out that this year’s observance of IWD placed emphasis on empowering rural women and ending hunger and poverty – ideals which the Community fully endorsed. He noted that the host government of Suriname, had chosen “healthy women, wealthy region” as the theme of the meeting, in tribute to the women of the Region.

(CARICOM Press Release)

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