Statement by the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance
On the occasion of International Women’s Day, the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance joins the rest of the world in celebrating the achievements and contributions of women and girls in all areas of economic and social development.
This UN’s theme “Gender Equality today for a sustainable tomorrow” brings attention to the role of women and girls in leading the charge towards achieving sustainable development, particularly in climate change mitigation and disaster risk reduction. At the same time it recognizes that there are still many countries where basic human rights are being trampled on and where women and children suffer the most.
Sadly, this International Women’s Day has been marred by the images of women and children fleeing the bombing of their homes, schools and hospitals in Ukraine, reversals of women’s rights in some countries, images of girls being sold for marriage so their families can eat in Afghanistan, of the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the Palestine, and of droughts, unbearable poverty and starvation in Southern Madagascar and Yemen.
Peace, equality, democracy, and sustainable development are needed more than ever before. From the beginning of the organised struggle for women’s rights dating back to 1946 in Guyana we have always viewed gender equality as inextricably interwoven with the larger development of the society; first in the anti-colonial struggle and then with the struggle for democracy. The theme this year reinforces our views.
As Guyanese women we must be grounded in remembering our journey, acknowledging where we have come from, and what we have so far achieved, whilst pausing and lending solidarity to women in other parts of the world where daily life is a battle for survival. Despite our many challenges, we are fortunate to live in a country that has made strides in women’s and children’s rights and there is no doubt it will continue to do so.
The Government of Guyana remains resolute in its commitment towards ensuring an equitable society, where women and girls enjoy all the rights and freedoms guaranteed in
Guyana’s Constitution, and the international Human Rights treaties Guyana which has ratified, including the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Violence Against Women (CEDAW), the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).
Significant resources continue to be dedicated towards providing access to training and entrepreneurial support for women to both empower and create viable opportunities for them to emerge from vulnerable situations, enhance their independence and reduce their exposure to violence and other forms of abuse. During the first cohort of Guyana Online Academy of Learning (GOAL), an innovative flagship program of the Government of Guyana, 6000 tertiary scholarships to accredited international institutions were awarded and 69 percent of the beneficiaries were women from all ten administrative regions.
Moreover, through the Women’s Innovation and Investment Network (WIIN), the Government via the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security is providing economic benefits to women through the provision of training and certification in emerging fields such as ICT, graphic design, video editing and professional care. Just last week, 850 women graduated from this programme. The WIIN programme has been strengthened by the launching of the first ever women’s business incubator which is equipped and well poised to support thousands of women across the country with starting up, sustaining, and marketing their micro, small, and medium-sized businesses to further secure their economic independence and security.
More recently, the First Lady has secured 100 scholarships for women from Amerindian Communities to be trained in the maritime and offshore industry through the Atlantic Alliance Marine and Offshore Training School. This laudable initiative will provide technical training to the recipients, further ensuring that women play a leading role in Guyana’s expanding oil and gas sector.
In line with this year’s focus on the role on advancing gender equality in the context of climate change and disaster risk reduction, Guyana is one of nine Caribbean countries currently implementing the Enabling Gender-Responsive Disaster Recovery, Climate and Environmental Resilience (EnGenDER) project, a five-year project scheduled to end in 2023. The project aims to make women, girls, and key vulnerable populations more resilient to the harmful effects of climate change, by sustainably implementing climate change action and disaster recovery. The completion of a Gender-based Climate Resilience Analysis for Guyana provides recommendation on developing gender-responsive and socially inclusive policies for building climate resilience in the priority areas of agriculture and health.
Moreover, the revised and expanded Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) 2030 specifies gender equality and social inclusion as central tenets for its effective implementation. Gender equality and social inclusion will be mainstreamed by building on the indispensable contributions of women in key sectors, including agriculture, where many of the subsectors are dominated by women. The LCDS will also promote the inclusion of women in decision-making in non-traditional fields such as the mining sector through
continuous training and mentorship, and will foster a range of opportunities for women to play an active role in their communities in low-carbon sectors such as sustainable tourism, particularly in rural and Amerindian communities.
Additionally, through the Civil Defence Commission (CDC), women are also taking a leading role in Community Based Disaster Risk Management (CBDRM). The CDC has championed the establishment of CBDRM Committees in 120 communities across Guyana’s ten administrative regions, by providing training on Disaster Management and Climate Change, lending ongoing support, and working with the communities to develop and implement projects and programmes which reduce their vulnerability to future disasters and build their capacity to respond to a disaster. Women make up at least 50 percent of the membership of each established committee.
Additionally, women property owners have increased tremendously through the National Housing programme thereby providing greater security and opportunities to use this as collateral for further expansion and growth.
However, despite these many initiatives and programmes, despite having a progressive Constitution and laws regarding women’s and children’s rights, we are still confronted with daily incidents of domestic and sexual violence, and even femicide.
Like in most other countries around the world, constant and consistent efforts and initiatives must be supported to fully achieve gender equality and sustainable development in our One Guyana. The transformative agenda of Guyana will open more doors for women in Guyana; this is the time to seize these opportunities.