PM to men: ‘Get on board with the concept of shared responsibility’

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‘Better relations between men and women’ is the central theme of International Men’s Day 2021 celebrations across the world.

In Guyana, men from all walks of life assembled at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC) for the #EngageMENt Forum hosted by the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security on Friday to spark a very candid conversation on how the existing gaps between men and women can be bridged.

The #EngageMENt forum saw the men participating in several panel discussions focused on masculinity, men’s expectations and needs; health and wellbeing and shared responsibility.

In this regard, the featured speaker at the forum was Prime Minister, Brigadier (ret’d) Mark Phillips who sent a strong message to the men gathered. He urged them to get on board with the concept of shared responsibility where women and men stand equally in society.

Minister of Human Services and Social Security, Dr Vindhya Persaud (center) with the Prime Minister (right) at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre

“This whole concept of shared responsibility is very important in the modern home. It is no longer the 1950’s. This is 2021. Shared responsibility is perhaps the most important guiding principle in any home in Guyana and in any developing country, any developed country,” the Prime Minister charged.

He added: “I had exposure and this shaped my understanding of a postmodern society. So for the men who are still behind the curve and not living in the now, get on board with this concept of shared responsibility.”

The Prime Minister reminded that women are now prominently placed in almost all sections of society and this positive evolution must be embraced by men.

“Men must be able to cope with the developing role of women in the society…shared responsibility does not diminish your role in the home with your family or at your place of work…The more opportunities we give to women, it’s better for us as men”.

Minister of Human Services and Social Security, Dr Vindhya Persaud echoed the PM’s sentiments, noting that for too long, the conversation has been stuck around patriarchal values but this needs to shift. In this regard, the minister pointed out that her ministry will embark on a campaign to push same.

“Today, I do have the pleasure of launching that campaign around shared responsibilities, where men understand what we mean by shared responsibilities and where they can share in the responsibilities that are traditionally seen as feminine…and it can be as simple as washing the clothes or combing your daughter’s hair,” she shared.

Minister Persaud highlighted too that the conversation also needs to be changed around the expectations of men in society.

“Are they unrealistic? Do you feel pressured? Do you have your own needs? And what do we think about masculinity in 2021? – These are things we need to discuss,” she continued.

Dr Persaud noted that men’s values in modern society are largely shaped by past experiences; she urged the men to ensure that they seek to create a drastic change in this regard.

The event was attended by several representatives of the armed forces, civil society and religious organisations. United States Ambassador to Guyana, Sarah-Ann Lynch and European Union Ambassador to Guyana, Fernando Ponz Cantó, also attended the event.

The men were treated to a special cook-off, featuring Guyanese Canadian Chef, Devan Rajkumar; Sarawak Restaurant; Berbician Roy Jaffarally and Ramnaresh Sarwan of Resto Bar. That segment was branded meaningful conversations through food.

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