Recommendations of Gender Equality Commission not being implemented, says Chairperson

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As Guyana joins in observing the international campaign to end violence against women and girls, the Women and Gender Equality Commission (WGEC) is concerned that recommendations made in its annual report are not implemented.

The Commission presents an annual report to the National Assembly in which it makes recommendations to better improve gender equality in Guyana.

Chairperson of the Commission WGEC, Indranie Chanderpaul told the News Room during an interview that she is “dissatisfied” that there is not adequate follow-up from Members of Parliament to implement any of the recommendations made in the reports.

“You are required to lay a report but that shouldn’t be enough, you should be required to go to the next stage. After you lay a report, what about the implementation? This to my mind is what we have to as a nation, look at it, because if the process through which these reports are prepared is a consultative one, you would have heard the people so having heard the people and what they are saying, we need to go the next step,” she emphasized.

In the last report covering October 2017- October 2018, the Commission recommended mobile courts to provide timely justice for rural women, an analysis of the employment sector to identify jobs which are filled by women and how their pay compare to men, introduce paternity leave in law, increase child support cost so single parents can effectively support their children and the provision of legal services throughout Guyana with priority being given to gender-based violence and other forms of discrimination.

Chanderpaul said the Commission works with 135 local organisations to address gender-related issues. As such, she noted that the recommendations come from those persons during consultations.

She pointed to the need for more to be done to tackle sexual harassment, the need for community counselling centres and the requirement to step away from patriarchal norms.

The Chairperson believes that violence against women and girls are rooted in patriarchal norms.

“I believe that for example, our young men today, we make them out to be supermen…you can’t expect your boys to be supermen, they are persons, they have feelings, they have emotions, some are strong and some are weak similarly like women and we need to understand that,” Chanderpaul noted.

She added that the religious text and other documents were written by men. As such the issues date back to generations and need to be addressed from a grassroots level.

“Oftentimes women are the ones who uphold on behalf of religion those kinds of things that are happening and it is based on the way we socialize our children, both boys and girls,” the chairperson told the News Room.

The influence of a society controlled by males on the perpetuation of domestic violence was also highlighted in a report compiled by the UNDP and other organisations titled “Guyana Women’s Health and Life Experiences Survey (WHLES).”

The report, which was launched on November 13, found that more than half (55%) of all women in Guyana experienced at least one form of violence at the hands of their partner.

It found that 1 in 5 (or 20 per cent of) women in Guyana experienced non-partner sexual abuse in their lifetime and 13 per cent reported experiencing this abuse before the age of 18.

The study was conducted by the Guyana Bureau of Statistics with support from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), UN Women, UNDP, USAID, the Global Women’s Institute of George Washington University and the University of Guyana.

The international campaign to end violence against women and girls is being observed under the theme “Orange the World: Generation Equality Stands Against Rape”.

This campaign, also known as “16 Days of Activism”, commences November 25 (International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women) and concludes December 10, 2019 (International Human Rights Day).

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