The gathering, which brought together women ministers, parliamentarians, principal secretaries, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the ambassador for women and children, commemorated the International Women’s Day.
Topics raised during the meeting were brought forward to a special cabinet meeting also held yesterday at State House to discuss issues affecting women.
The legislative, judiciary, executive and Citizens Engagement Platform (Ceps) gave a presentation on issues affecting Seychellois women’s personal and professional lives.
Chief Justice Mathilda Twomey said at the end of the day, the same points were being outlined by different partners.
“We talked a lot about the empowerment of women that has become quite clichéd. We have platitudes about the empowerment of women but we do not address what is really empowering a woman. Empowering a woman is to give a woman a place in society to influence decisions and her rightful place beside men in all aspects of her life,” she said.
She added this has to be emphasised in Seychelles as we tend to lose sight of this very issue by just paying lip service to the empowerment of women.
She also said they talked strongly about legislative
changes that need to happen to put women on exactly the same place as men in society.
“There are still some laws to be looked at to give women the equal status to men in Seychelles,” she said.
Cannibalising of women by other women, she said, also formed part of the discussion where women who get to a certain position in Seychelles are often criticised, not only by men, but especially by women.
“This is a kind of an act of treason by women against women. Women are there to protect each other and to be in solidarity with other women,” said Mrs Twomey.
She added they also talked on other aspects like life in Seychelles especially sexual rights of women and the main role as a mother in the home.
Regarding the presentations delivered during the roundtable discussions, two female parliamentarians, Chantal Ghislain and Regina Esparon, elaborated on them.
“One thing I would like to stress on – when it comes to women and women issues – we as politicians should never, never let politics divide us. Regarding families, last week we visited the prison and it really ripped our hearts apart to see one whole family – a mother, a father and a son – in prison. Our families are being ripped apart because of those social ills. So we have to take bold actions and bold decisions, have the political will to be able to change that,” Ms Ghislain said.
Her presentation was on family especially on how the family as the social fabric of society is being torn apart by social ills like drug, alcohol, delinquent children, parents who have no control over their kids from such a young age as 9 years.
“I am not accusing any parents. But we as women should take more responsibility to care for our children, home, our own self as women so those children can become good citizens in society tomorrow.”
Mrs Esparon commended the opportunity to meet and discuss with the President where she said she brought to his attention pertinent issues affecting women in Seychelles.
“Last week we visited the Montagne Posée prison and we have proposed to the Prison Board to take a fresh look into the issue of women in prison so they are able to get a second chance in life. We also discussed issues affecting women in the home, subjects considered ‘taboo’ by the local population or women themselves, on social issues that continue to affect society where women or parents are afraid or shy to talk about.”
She said policies which she considers are affecting women were also put forward. She cited examples as the Ministry of Health’s contraceptive programme which is for women under 18 but not below 16. But where there are cases of girls being sexually active under the age of 14.
“We need this harmonisation in those policies,” she said.
The issue of day care centres being too far from work places, was also discussed where she suggested future day care centres are located much closer to working places so mothers do not have to walk long distances in either strong rain or scorching sun to carry their child to a day care.