Celebrating International Women’s Day

| 08/03/2009

As we embark upon International Women’s Day and month long celebrations I took a few moments to consider the implications of women in modern day Cayman.

Coincidentally, as I was contemplating the impact that the current economic situation would have on women and children in the Cayman Islands, the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women just issued a statement of concern as well.

The fact of the matter is that as more people lose jobs and face enormous financial and emotional strain we can expect to see a rise in violence against women and children. Here in the Cayman Islands our fight for gender equality could also be compromised as the World Bank predicts 53 million more people will be pushed into poverty in developing countries this year.

With unemployment rates reflecting a 25 year high and also rising in the Cayman Islands, we cannot ignore the long understood correlation between gender violence and the economy. The global economic crisis provides a dark backdrop and we can expect this to take its toll, especially on women. The Geneva-based International Labor Office Thursday launched its annual Global Employment Trends for Women report; indications are that women in Latin America and the Caribbean are particularly vulnerable.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday reiterated his urgent call to bring an end to violence against women, a scourge whose impact is devastating and immeasurable, as the United Nations began a series of events to mark International Women’s Day.

"It is sometimes said that women are weavers and men are too often warriors," Ban said in an address to the commemoration of the day, observed annually on March 8, in New York. "Women bear and care for our children. In much of the world they plant the cropsthat feed us. They weave the fabric of our societies," he said. "Violence against women is thus an attack on all of us, on the foundation of our civilization." He added that violence against women is an "abomination" and stands against everything in the UN Charter.

The secretary-general, who last year launched a global campaign called "Unite to End Violence Against Women", cited statistics of one in five women worldwide suffering from rape or attempted rape, while in some nations up to one in three women are beaten or abused.

Financial problems often equate to relationship problems which can act as a trigger for domestic violence. It is well understood that domestic violence is about power and control. When people lose control in one area of their lives, like losing a job, they are more inclined to exert more control in another area, such as their homes.

Tough economic times mean that victims are less likely to get child support if a parent is unemployed. Additionally, women are more likely to stay in abusive situations for the fear of having nowhere to go or not being able to support themselves. Also, with our current government monetary constraints there is the concern that agencies that serve as safe houses and provide services to victims could be facing budget cuts and less available funds.

We can see from the recent celebrity domestic assault case involving singer Rihanna that no one is immune from gender violence. The Estella Scott-Robert’s case brought the point a little closer to home for us here as well. These widely publicized cases serve as a reminder that violence against women is alive and well in all sectors of the community.

The elimination of gender violence means that we have to focus on preventative measures that work. Prevention is best achieved by empowering women and reducing gender disparities and by changing norms and attitudes which foster violence. Intervention should employ a multi-sectoral approach including laws and policies and work at different levels: individual, community and institutional. They should create and foster partnerships between government and nongovernmental agencies.

We can also do our part as individual members of this community and offer a network of support for anyone who is being abused. We should seek to protect the vulnerable members of our community; especially children, the elderly and women. A recession is no time to turn a blind eye to the ills of gender violence; instead we should seek to strengthen the social fabric that will allow us to support each other.

When I look around at the culture in the Cayman Islands I am so stricken and proud of the number of strong women we have among us, including those who run households, companies and organizations and also those involved in the political makeup of this country. We have a history of strength amongst women. However, we also have a history of violence, rape and gender inequality as well. Let us not hide the ills of our society but expose them and implement solutions.

International Woman’s Day (IWD) is marked on March 8 every year. It is a major day of global celebration for the economic, political and social achievements of women.

Since starting in 1909 it is an occasion marked by women’s groups around the world. This date is also commemorated at the United Nations and is designated in many countries as a national holiday. When women on all continents, often divided by national boundaries and by ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic and political differences, come together to celebrate their Day, they can look back to a tradition that represents at least nine decades of struggle for equality, justice, peace and development.

International Women’s Day is the story of ordinary women as makers of history; it is rooted in the centuries-old struggle of women to participate in society on an equal footing with men.

I would like to wish all – in the name of universal sisterhood – Happy International Women’s Day!


Sandra Catron is an independent candidate for the district of Bodden Town

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I enjoyed reading this. It’s so true as well – there is no excuse for domestic violence in our community – no matter what – women should flee men like this.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Very well done Sandra: keep it up please.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for this article Sandy! Great work – keep it up.