The Department of Social Cohesion will be collaborating with the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) to promote a unified nation and to ensure that there is no duplication of efforts by the two agencies.
The two agencies met Monday at the Racquet Centre in Georgetown to begin discussing collaborative efforts in addressing the need of the community and individuals and work on more policies and programmes that can build and unite the nation.
Minister of Social Cohesion, Dr. George Norton said while ethnic and race relations are seen as the most prominent in the country, the division goes beyond racial issues.
“Ethnicity is not the only aspect of our diversity that is often recognized as a strong word…to create conflict among Guyanese, it is just one of the many things that segregate our people,” Minister Norton said.
The Department is working to address other areas that fuels divisions in the society such as gender, age, geographical location, religion, culture, physical ability and socioeconomic status. The Minister said these areas are no less damaging than racial issues.
Minister Norton said, “Where for instance a hard working female is forced to accept a meagre salary, compare to her less qualified male counterpart or a physical ability matter, where a differently abled person is refused transportation.”
The mission is to create a harmonious nation, where equality prevails, where diversities are embraced and where individuality is nurtured and accepted at all levels.
While both entities are working to unite the people of Guyana, the ERC deals solely with matters of race and ethnicity.
Chairman for the ERC, Dr. John Smith said the meeting was long overdue and they will work with the Department of Social Cohesion to ensure that no individual or community is at a disadvantage in society.
“So we have two streams flowing together and therefore, it’s a good idea for this meeting so we can collaborate and flow in the one direction and I like what is being said about the disadvantage in our nation,” The Chairman said.
He said this is a great time to work together with Social Cohesion to work with the relevant entities to unite the six races of people in the country.
Both the Department of Social Cohesion and Ethnic Relations Commission are looking forward to good communication and information sharing with each other, as they will both lend each other support and seek assistance.
Mahendra Boodram, one of the Department’s technical officer said, “We are here to work in a collaborative manner so that we can assist you and you can assist us in getting the information necessary for us to achieve our programmes and you can do the same.”