GBTI maintains a strong commitment to giving back to the community. Recently, in recognition of International Women’s Day, GBTI made moves to support greater gender equality throughout Guyana. Creating a more gender balanced country is important not just for women, but for all citizens of the country in terms of creating opportunity and driving progress.
The CEO of GBTI, James Foster, spoke at a ceremony held on International Women’s Day at the I Love Guyana Monument in Kingston. This event was organized by GBTI in collaboration with Impressions and the High Commission of Canada to Guyana. During his speech, Foster reaffirmed the larger mission of creating a world in which women can live free of fear and want and pointed to the importance of maintaining space for women to share their experiences and insights.
The International Women’s Day Celebration in Kingston
During the event, the letters in the monument were replaced by a backdrop decorated for International Women’s Day. People could sign their own personal pledges in support of the larger #ChooseToChallenge campaign associated with the holiday. The event also featured words from other community leaders, including the Impression marketing manager, who acknowledged how far women have come in their fight for equality.
Many women around the world have few rights and face extreme hardship in their everyday lives as a result. This is the reason why such events are so important. International Women’s Day is a bittersweet holiday that celebrates progress while pointing to the continued abuse, violence, and trauma experienced by women.
A great deal still needs to be done to ensure that women have the rights and protections they deserve and this event was a way to raise awareness and encourage people to pledge to work toward a different future. Creating a supportive environment for women is a collective responsibility. While it is important to reflect on the progress that has been made, it is even more critical to continue pushing for change.
This is truer this year than ever due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused situations for many women around the world to deteriorate. Issues like affordable childcare, small business training, gender-based violence, and discrimination have become even more apparent due to the pandemic. Research has overwhelmingly shown that gender equality and female empowerment drives development and makes communities more resilient. Closing the gender gap is an imperative goal for GBTI.
The History of International Women’s Day
While International Women’s Day, which is held on March 8 each year, has become an important holiday in the past decades, it has actually been celebrated since the early 1900s. When it was first recognized back in 1909, it was actually celebrated at the end of February, but was moved to the beginning of March in 1913.
The first celebration was an outgrowth of a 1908 march through New York City, which involved demands for better pay and shorter hours, as well as the right to vote. At that time, the event took place only in the United States, but after a decision in Copenhagen, it became international in 1911. Since then, the event has grown to recognize the economic, social, and political impact of women, as well as a stark reminder that significant inequality continues to exist across the globe.
Today, people recognize International Women’s Day in a number of different ways. Many events choose to celebrate the achievements of women and raise awareness about the fight for equality, such as the recent gathering in Kingston. These gatherings become an important forum for discussing how to generate change and what individual people can do to make a difference.
The day is also an important one for donating to charities focused on the education and support of women across the world. These organizations are driving much of the change we see in the world in terms of economic and political empowerment of women, as well as protecting females from violence.
The 2021 #ChooseToChallenge Theme
In 2021, International Women’s Day has adopted the theme #ChooseToChallenge, which is what drove the GBTI event in Guyana. When we challenge the world around us, we become alert to the inequities that may have previously flown under the radar. Each person is responsible for their own thoughts and actions, is this what the theme really means.
Everyone needs to look at themselves and the world around them to call out bias and inequality. The event asked people to raise their hands as a pledge to challenge themselves and the people around them and then share photos of this pose online to increase awareness of the campaign and the important day.
These photos serve as an important conversation starter to become more critical of the policies and procedures we take for granted by that are founded in bias. GBTI took the challenge a step further to ask people to put their own commitments down in writing for everyone to see.