–First Lady urges Guyanese to challenge gender stereotypes
IN observance of International Women’s Day, First Lady Mrs. Arya Ali is urging Guyanese to defy the norms of society and challenge gender stereotypes and biases in keeping with this year’s theme, “Choose to Challenge”.
The First Lady, in her International Women’s Day Message, highlighted that in the 21st Century, women are still being underappreciated in their jobs and homes. She reiterated that women have proven time after time that they can break through barriers, and do a man’s job just as good as or even better than he, however, women are still not treated fairly, and are not given the same dues and respect a man would receive in the world of work.
“In the workplace, many women are held back simply because they are women; asking for a promotion is seen as being too ambitious, even pompous,” First Lady Ali said, adding: “Many women have risen to become the CEO and leaders of large and small companies; many of our women and girls have taken on roles once held only by men, to the point that in Guyana, we now have a female pilot in the Army, and many of our girls have taken on jobs in the oil-and -gas industry.”
The First Lady highlighted that women deserve to be treated fairly, but gender stereotypes and biases tend to get in the way of that.
“I want to challenge that stereotype and bias; promotions should be based not on gender, but on ability and experience,” she said, adding: “The pay one receives should be based on their work, not on whether they are man or woman. Let’s give women their due!”
The First Lady noted that for many years, women have been seen as housewives and the sole caretaker of the home and children, due to the historic and cultural stereotypes imposed on them over the decades.
She said that taking care of one’s home and family life should not be just a woman’s job, but should be distributed equally with a man.
“In the home,” she said, “a genuine complaint is that husbands fail to recognise or even acknowledge the work that us wives and mothers do; and husbands generally fail to do their fair share. Sadly, this is because of historic and cultural stereotypes against women. I want to challenge that! Husbands, the home is not a place you just walk in to fill up; it’s not a gas station!”
She added, “There is absolutely nothing wrong for men to do the dishes, wash clothes, or clean the house. A husband should respect his wife’s intelligence and experience; he should also understand her needs as a woman, wife, and mother. He needs to understand her physical, emotional, psychological, and sexual needs and meet them.”
The First Lady further stated that while there is much more work to be done, there has been some progress over the years, with Guyana being the first country in the Caribbean to have a female president, and to date have a government with its Cabinet seats filled with remarkable women of diverse backgrounds.
“Let us rejoice at what has been accomplished thus far, but let us break down the barriers; the stereotypes and the bias that still affect many, many of our women and girls,” the First Lady said, adding: “Our women want the same thing men do: A decent living, a rewarding personal and family life, and a chance to make a difference in their communities, our country and the world. Let’s give them that life! Let’s all challenge stereotypes and bias!”