Sunday, June 06, 2010

Stella Says…Score One for the Ladies!

(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 06 June 2010)

I do not know if you have been keeping score, but I sure have. Team Ladies has been the underdogs in the game of life for…oh, a millennia or two (or three or four). So when I see a government call foul and start encouraging fair play – as Guyana’s government has done with recent legislation – I cannot help but jump up and yell, “score!”

Women are scoring big in Guyana with the passage of the Sexual Offences legislation, the inauguration of Women of Worth (WOW) – a micro-credit loan scheme to help single mothers start and run their own businesses, and the increased focus on training single women on how to find their way in the workforce.

Not only has Team Ladies scored, the game is now being played on a far more even playing field. Let’s face it; the game has not been fair for a very long time. Women have been beaten, forced into physical, mental and emotional subjugation, and treated as property to be bought, sold and discarded.

Women were kept from an education, from participating in political decisions and from speaking on religious issues. Once women were “allowed” to work outside of the house, they were still expected to continue with the work inside the house and not complain – after all, it was such a benevolent act to allow women to do something besides dishes and laundry.

Sadly, I could go on and on. Some of these unfair rules that have governed the game of life have been corrected in our part of the world. Though many still exist for women in other parts of the world. Moreover, some of these damnable issues are still woven into the fabric of our own so-called “enlightened” society.

If I came across the path of the Minister of Human Services and Social Security, Priya Manickchand, I would give her a big, long hug. It might get uncomfortable for those watching since my emotions of great appreciation would not allow me to just give a quick hug and leave it at that. I’d hug, and hug, and hug, and hug.

And I’d hope with everything in me that Freddie Kissoon would be there to see it. Let him steam over the fact that some people in this world acknowledge the good others are doing – even if he is incapable of such magnanimity.

I hope I never get to the place in life where I believe only those who think like I think can perform good acts. The PPP pushed this VERY GOOD legislation through. Minister Manickchand worked very hard to put together a highly comprehensive package that has changed the game forever in Guyana.

Like it or not, under the PPP, the government of Guyana has accomplished one of the most moral, decent and honourable actions I’ve seen from any government in a long time. The women (and children) of the nation are now far more equipped to live their lives to the fullest than they were even a month ago.

My only concern for the Sexual Offence Act is, of course, enforcement. I cannot help but wonder if the voice of a female victim will be heard in the police stations. Are the judges ready to implement the full force of this law? Will these remarkable changes be taken seriously in the humdrum of the day-to-day grind?

This is where the test begins. If society fails to understand that the rules of the game have changed, then no one wins. Not Team Ladies. Not Team Gentlemen. No one. In this game, only time will tell.
I am cheering for the home team. If the home team wins this one, the entire nation will have won a decisive victory. Go team! Go!

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