Guyanese women should fight their own battle
January 27, 2017 – Stabroek News – Letters – By Yvonne Sam
Permit me to respond to the letter in Stabroek News of January 26, by Clement Rohee, captioned ‘Where were the women of Guyana on Saturday?’ (see letter below). Yes, where were they? It is apropos to quote a Guyanese saying: ‘It na good foh pick up other people fire rage.’ Do the women in Guyana need overseas impetus to jolt their awareness of what is taking place right in their own part of the world?
If as stated by the writer, almost every issue raised (with very few exceptions) affects women in every Caricom country including Guyana, then what have they all done thus far? Do they lack the skills to mobilize and spread awareness, or have they become complacent with their lot? Are there no local clarions to be sounded? No leaders to spur them into action?
A question was also levelled at the respective Guyanese organizations as to their stand on the issue of women’s demands and struggles. It is time that these organizations in whatever form they exist to become visible and accountable. Incidentally, it is blatantly apparent that these organizations are not on the same page as Mr. Rohee, hence their inertia and unconcern. Had they been of the same ilk and fervour, then a different picture would have emerged.
In a democracy, demonstrations of any form serve a useful purpose; however this holds true only when clarity of purpose is present. The latest marches in cities across Africa, Asia and Europe the day after Donald Trump was sworn in, was merely a physical exercise in need of a cause. Of note is the fact that the idea of a march that would bring together women from all walks of life began to surface on social media like yeast in flour, the morning after the election.
That is when the reality struck that Hillary Clinton did not become America’s first female president, and a loud-mouthed, sexist, misogynist, xenophobe did. Initially the event was called the Million Women March, but this had to be quickly abandoned after the three original organizers, all Caucasians, were called out for cultural appropriation, as seeming to be guilty of stealing the heritage of the Million Woman March for Black women that took place in 1997. Also it was implied that such a march would also encroach on the famous 1963 ‘I had a dream’ march of Martin Luther King Jr on Washington.
The march was touted as the voice of women, which is somewhat absurd as 42% of women and 62% of non-college educated white women actually voted for Trump. Though not much publicized, men were also invited to join the march against the hate and division that Donald Trump puts forward as politics. The march is over! The women have been seen and heard. A critical question remains: What happens now? Organizers are now faced with the challenge of how to convert the commitment and anger of a protest into action that produces political change, a goal that has evaded other popular movements. It will be more challenging or discouraging now that the Republicans control the presidency, the Senate and the House. What do Guyana and other Caricom nations say?
Opposing Donald Trump calls for focused alertness, and collaborative militancy that is intelligent, targeted and calibrated. Merely joining in and prematurely promoting the false concerns of a feminist lobby would make it somewhat difficult to embark on a serious resistance movement. Needless to say, this will cause Trump to see his female critics and protesters as agitated hysterics as well as disregard the concerns of genuinely targeted groups.
Guyanese women should look around the environment where so much needs changing, and fight their own fight. To each their own battle.
Where were the women of Guyana on Saturday?
Stabroek News – On January 26, 2017 – Letter- by Clement Rohee
So impressive! The millions of women marching in America and in so many countries around the world to bring attention to their rights as well as their demands. The messages were all embracing. It was a beautiful demonstration of women of the world demanding their rights ‒ their civil, political, cultural and human rights, their right to family planning and preventative care. It was the biggest women’s demonstration ever in the world.
The feisty speakers delivered fiery, yet powerful messages characterized by strong feelings of solidarity and sisterhood, and man and woman being equal before the law and entitled to equal opportunity in every field of human endeavour. These were common features in almost every message delivered, whether by Madonna, a female ex-prisoner, an indigenous female Native American or a Congresswoman from California. The stirring up of a controversy over crowd size in relation to Obama versus Trump’s inauguration was clearly an attempt to create a distraction from the overwhelming success and the impact of the women’s marches both within and outside America.
It’s a pity we did not hear a peep on this particular day from women’s organizations in Guyana and other Caricom countries. The question being asked by many is, where do these organizations stand in respect to this global women’s tidal wave that has raised to an unprecedented level women’s demands and the struggle for their legitimate rights?
We know that almost every issue raised, whether by the militant women in the United States of America, Europe, Asia, Africa or Latin America, is the same issue, with very few exceptions, that affect women in every Caricom country, including our own Guyana.
Fmr General Secretary
People’s Progressive Party