Put the collection of statistics on hold and take action.
That was the view expressed by President of the National Organisation of Women, Marilyn Rice-Bowen as she addressed the United Nation’s International Women’s Day celebrations this morning.
Rice-Bowen, who is also the Caribbean women’s group representative as well, said over six million women lived in countries where domestic violence was not considered a crime and one in three were victims, with as much as US$1.6 to $5.8 billion spent dealing with it.
Stating that there had been much data collected around the world for a while now, she warned it was time to move beyond this to the next step.
“Today, I appeal to all let’s put the collection of data on hold. Let us accelerate the process to bring about the change which we are seeking, the evidence is there. We need to move from there to the implementation stage.
“While we have debates on domestic violence, while we debate legislation, our sisters are suffering, our sisters are being murdered. We can’t afford to lose another sister. We need as a people to apply the pressure wherever it needs to be placed in order to bring about this change,” said Rice-Bowen.
She challenged the women especially to use themselves as the centres of influence for the change they wanted to see.
While the day also saw the launch of the official song, One Woman, Acting Director of UN Women Caribbean, Joan French, said the artists of the region, including David Rudder, Destra, Mikey, TC, Natahlee, Tarrus Riley and Tanya Stephens were joining the fight.
“But we need to expand the messengers to ensure all the cultural custodians are speaking out and to ensure we are all using all the avenues open to us.
“This is why here in the UN Women Caribbean office we are celebrating the day by exhibiting the potential of visual artists to be agents of justice for women, through the themes and messages of their paintings. By so doing we explore one more dimension of the engagement of cultural actors, as they join the singers, musicians and poets who are already engaged in this effort,” she said.
Local artists Versia Harris, Sheena Rose and Nyssa Haynes-Holder showcased their work and were commended by the artists and stakeholders present for the statements they made with their works, speaking out against the images women have of themselves and general negativity associated with being woman.
Interim UN Resident Coordinator with the ITU, Cleveland Thomas said at this time, domestic abuse, especially sexual abuse and incest was still alarming.
“In 2013, the violence of inadequate inclusion in the decision-making processes that govern the lives of women is still unacceptable. In 2013, the violence of HIV/AIDS, stigma and discrimination and selective access to appropriate health care for women and their children blight our societies, the violence of destructive cultural norms and perpetuated gender roles and identities is inhibitive,” he said. (LB)