Taking the message to the local Rotary club was the acting Director of the Gender Affairs Department, Mrs. Celia Christopher. In her presentation Ms. Christopher provided some background information about the roles and responsibilities of the Department of Gender Affairs.
She sighted domestic violence as the main problem with which her Department had to grapple, and advised of the progress being made since 2007, to address the problems encountered by women, as well as men, with the addition to the Department of male staff member with specific responsibility for male related issues.
She lauded the successes of Project Viola, run by her Department for teenage mothers, adding that this project was a model for the Caribbean and that it was viewed as a best practice project by the United Nations.
She also indicated that collaboration was being sought with other arms of Government in the execution of her Department’s duties, including with the legal fraternity and national security. She emphasized the need for proper examples to be set in the homes by parents, guardians and caregivers.
She stated that International Women’s Day is an occasion for “nations worldwide to celebrate the contributions of women to nation building, and the courage of women who sacrificed for the realization of their rights”.
Ms. Christopher challenged our women, “Whether they are part of a group in the faith based community, or other special interest groups, to continue to articulate the issues that affect our lives, since women’s empowerment and equality are at the core of the realization of the millennium development goals”.
She admonished that as we celebrate International Women’s Day 2011, we “should conjure in our minds, images of a society in which men and women share equally in every area of national endeavor, from the private to the public sphere” and be “determined to work towards that state of equality, development and peace within our country”.
Women’s Day was celebrated for the first time by the Socialist Party of the United States on 28 February 1909, but that it was not until 1975, the International Year of the Woman, that the United Nations proclaimed 8 March as International Women’s Day.
The theme for this year’s celebration and 100th anniversary is “Equal Access to Education, Training, Science and Technology: A Pathway to Decent Work for Women.”