Some men may jest, “You can’t live with them, and you can’t live without them!” But whatever their peculiarities, the positive contributions of women to the holistic advancement of our world, could only be described as phenomenal. Last Tuesday, the world marked International Women’s Day. Here in TT, the relevant Government Ministries and various non-governmental organisations made sure that their celebrations registered impression and impact. We all owe it to the fairer gender to say, “Congratulations!” Miracle Ministries has a congregation of over four thousand. Of this, 60 percent are women. I therefore just had to know it was International Women’s Day!
Then again, with five women in my life — my wife Angela and four daughters — Sherrose, Candel, Winsie-Ann and Victrina, I most certainly had another reminder! Actually, 13-year-old Winsie-Ann (a form two student at the Miracle Ministries Pentecostal High School) was a guest artiste of the Ministry of Community Development Culture and Gender Affairs in its 2004 International Women’s Day celebrations, on the Brian Lara Promenade. Her song, “Precious Woman,” has since received considerable air play. She has also appeared at various functions (including Mother’s Day celebrations) doing the item. What is particularly interesting, is how many men applaud the song as “a true tribute” to women. Let’s take a peek into the lyrics.
I just entered my teenage years
But sometimes, I’m almost moved to tears
When I see the raw deal given
To the fairest of God’s creation
Yes, I know you will understand
As I take my stand on behalf of woman
She was created to be celebrated
But so often slighted and denigrated
Nevertheless, she withstands the tempest
I could attest, she will not be suppressed
By prejudice, stress or duress
’cause she was born, born for conquest
And that’s why I proudly profess
“Woman, you’re most precious!”
The victim of domestic abuse
She’s only an object to be used
And if she shows self-confidence
She is accused of arrogance
A big threat to male dominance
So to gender bias, I offer resistance
It’s a glass ceiling, in the workplace
So woman can’t win the promotion race
But whether it’s technology
Politics, business or academically
Woman excel formidably
So that’s why I could sing with authority
When it comes to scholarships
School girls always top the list
But yet every workplace they enter
The man’s pay is always higher
Like some ah them employers derange
So ah go sing, and sing, ’till this madness change!
Very few of us would want to challenge this young singer on the bold claim that women are “most precious” and “the fairest of God’s creation.” Whatever their peculiarities, the strides and positive contributions of women to the holistic advancement of our world, over the past three decades in particular, could only be described as phenomenal. As Winsie-Ann points out, “But whether it’s technology/ Politics, business or academically/Women excel formidably.” This has not been without “raw deals” from “male dominance,” she laments. The glass ceiling, which Prime Minister Patrick Manning recently said was now “non-existent,” was another point of complaint: “It’s a glass ceiling, in the workplace/So women can’t win the promotion race.” That was Winsie-Ann’s 2004 protestation. But Mr Manning’s 2005 assurance is that the glass ceiling has been broken, or rather, shattered.
Although, in certain respects, the woman, as the Scripture says, can be regarded as “the weaker vessel” (1 Pet 3:7) there is no question about the incredible fortitude, strength of courage and resilience, the average woman possesses. Again, we have little choice but to agree with Winsie-Ann’s lines: “Nevertheless, she withstands the tempest/I could attest, she will not be suppressed/By prejudice, stress or duress/’cause she was born, born for conquest.” Some men may jest about women: “You can’t live with them, and you can’t live without them!” Others may venture, “When yuh find ah good woman, she real good; but when yuh find ah bad one, she worse than the devil!” “Strange” or not, the niche this gender fits is a unique, if not indispensable one.
This is one of the reasons that the recent PAHO/UNAids statistics which show many more women than men being infected with the HIV virus, is so worrying. It’s sad to have any gender affected by this killer plague, but to hear that “five-times more girls than boys are HIV-positive,” is indeed troubling. The data also revealed that girls between the ages of 15-24 were more sexually active than boys. We must act fast to arrest this disastrous trend. We must hasten back to basics in moral and spiritual values. Sowing the wind, always means reaping the whirlwind!
The aspect of the exploitation of young girls by older men, ought to make men ashamed of themselves. Men were created to protect girls and women from harm and exploitation. But here they (the men) are doing the exact opposite. It’s true, women have a responsibility to guard their chastity and dignity. But this does not remove the man’s role to guide, guard, and govern; protect, direct and correct. Remembering the words of Proverbs 31:30, “…a woman who fears the Lord, shall be praised.” We’ll give Winsie-Ann the last word, “She was created to be celebrated.”