As Barbados prepares to join the world in observing International Women’s Day on Monday, March 8, members of the public are being urged to stand firm in the defence of women’s rights.

Programme Officer in the Bureau of Gender Affairs, Patricia Hackett-Codrington, has encouraged men and women to "channel all of their energies into working to maintain democracy because in doing so, the rights and opportunities we have gained will redound to progress for all".

Mrs. Hackett-Codrington admitted that both men and women would be affected in these difficult economic times. But, she pointed out that since women were the ones who nurtured their families, they might find it even harder to cope.

"These times often threaten many of the achievements that are made in gender relations and that is why this year’s theme of ???Equal Rights, Equal Opportunities: Progress for All’ is appropriate for International Women’s Day because it reinforces in our minds the need for equality for everyone," she said.

The Programme Officer promised that the Bureau would continue its work to eradicate domestic violence. She added: "We are trying to educate and move people away from resorting to violence. Instead, we are encouraging them to resolve issues through discussion, communication and collaboration."

Mrs. Hackett-Codrington added that their efforts would also continue in the areas of HIV and human trafficking.

Meanwhile, the Bureau will be hosting a public rally and concert in Independence Square on Monday, March 8, to celebrate International Women’s Day. It will run from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. and performers will include John King, TC, Natahlee, Dancin’ Africa and Drama Konnections.

The commemoration of the day is a tradition that started in 1909 after some female workers in New York experienced hardship and it represents at least nine decades of struggle for equality, justice, peace and development.??

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