Victoria, Mahé (Seychelles) – March 1, 2020 (visitseychelles.org) – On the occasion of the International Day against Discrimination, and in the wake of the presidential State of the Nation Address with its ensuing replies, the One Seychelles political party avails of the opportunity to launch a strong appeal and recommendation for the significant and credible efforts to enforce non-discrimination in all its aspects in our society.
Zero Discrimination Day, which is observed on March 1 annually, specifically calls for the end of discrimination of women and girls, and also promotes the necessity of equal rights, opportunities and treatments.“One Seychelles” recognizes the great strides made in Seychelles for the elimination of specific forms of discrimination, against women and children among others. However, despite the fact that we have at least verbally projected our collective desires for ‘unity’ highlighted in the names of all the major active political parties of the Republic of Seychelles in: “United Seychelles” (US), “Linyon Demokratik Seselwa (LDS); Lalyans Seselwa and “En Sel Sesel”(One Seychelles,) we however must be cognizant that the reality on the ground leaves a lot to be desired for us all to achieve the stated collective ambition.
Through our posts on our Facebook page (@enselsesel), we have been consistently highlighting the plight of working mothers. Many mothers have little other viable option following the expiration of their paid maternity, leave than to surrender their 3 to 4-month-old infants to poorly-funded, ill-equipped or understaffed community day care centre. In this light we acknowledge the effort to bring maternity leave to four months. It is encouraging to find that, if we make enough noise, the cry of the People will be heard.
However, we find that the proposed solutions as expounded in President Faure’s SONA; fall far short of what is needed to alleviate the difficulties challenging so many struggling families. This situation discriminates between women who are mothers and those who do not have children. It also separates those mothers who have the means to stay at home and look after their children from those who have no optionn but to leave the care of their babies to others and go to work.
To beat this form of silent discrimination, One Seychelles proposes the implement of a day care in each Government Department, as is done elsewhere in the world, so that mothers can have easy access to their babies, thereby encouraging continued breastfeeding, and allowing women to remain in full-time employment. Flexible working hours for working mothers would also be beneficial, as would increasing the paid maternity leave period to six months.
Lack of means and access to housing have caused many women and their children to remain in households where they are abused physically, mentally and even sexually. One NGO led halfway home is not enough. What else is the Government of the day doing to help victims of domestic violence? In this aspect I commend Mr. Dean Padayachy who through his NGO has done tremendous altruistic work to house and home many women, at his own expense, who have fled from abusive households. However, he can only do so much.
Other kinds of discrimination cannot be overlooked because they also serve to impair democracy. As stated by the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres: “We must all work harder to repair the fissures and polarization that are so prevalent in our societies today. We must nurture mutual understanding and invest in making diversity a success. And we must counter and reject political figures who exploit differences for electoral gain.”
The Government of the day has distinguished between two classes of Seychellois: the privileged few who qualify for an early, and certainly more generous, pension at 55 years of age, and the rest who must toil for a further 10 years before being able too retire. This is discrimination.
Other forms of discrimination include the differing treatment received by foreigners and Seychellois in their own Country. Foreigners are given preferential treatment over similarly skilled and experienced Seychellois working in or applying for the same post.
There is also discrimination in the realm of business, with glaring monopolies in existence and being overlooked by both political camps.
Politicians who truly care about the Nation should strive to promote unity, greater tolerance and understanding among the People of Seychelles. For too long, politics has been the reason for discrimination in our society. The ‘ek nou, pa ek nou’ culture is still rampant amongst those who are nostalgic for the era of dirty politics, total control and fear and security clearance is still used as a political discrimination tool. If we are to put an end to division, we will have to stop fighting one another and seek true unity, not just a consensus that benefits one party. Unity does not mean sameness – it means oneness of purpose