Women’s day marks 100

This week’s International Women’s Day observance should spur the territory to redouble its efforts to achieve equality for women and men. Virgin Islands females have come a long way in recent decades. They currently hold high-level positions in the public and private sectors alike, outnumbering males in many key areas.

And, in the past year, government has made important progress for women. A gender policy and human rights law are in the works, and Cabinet recently approved the implementation of a protocol to help standardise responses to domestic violence.

We applaud these initiatives, and urge government and the community to ensure that they start to bear fruit as quickly as possible.

But even then, much work will need to be done.

In this election year, for example, the VI should ask itself why women are still woefully underrepresented among the territory’s elected leaders.

Perhaps because politics have long been regarded as a male domain here and around the region, no more than two women at a time have served as VI legislators since the first female representatives were elected in 1995.

Obviously, a House of Assembly with only two women doesn’t adequately reflect a population where the numbers of both sexes are about equal.

This election year, then, we hope to see more women throw their hat in the ring. And voters should be supportive of their efforts, doing their part to leave behind the old stereotype that women don’t belong in politics.

Efforts to tackle domestic violence also should continue, as the new protocol alone will not solve the problem.

Today, some members of the community still appear to tacitly accept violence against women. Evidence of this mindset can be seen in the courts, where abusers regularly appear to face justice for violent attacks on wives and girlfriends.

Still, this attitude seems to be changing slowly with the help of activists such as the Family Support Network. We hope this trend will accelerate.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day. Since the day first was observed in 1911, the situation of women in much of the world has improved greatly. But there is still a long way to go.

The Virgin Islands should do everything it can to ensure that it is at the forefront of this movement.