Guyana’s legal framework promotes gender equality- Nandlall


By Richard Bhainie

Through provisions and regulatory mechanisms, constitutional or otherwise, Guyana’s legal framework promotes gender equality and deters discrimination against women, especially on the ground of gender or grounds connected therewith, says Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, S.C.

“We have policies, we have mechanisms and we have protective safeguards against discrimination in any form or fashion against women on the basis of gender, or indeed on any grounds whatsoever,” Nandlall reminded in observation of International Women’s Day during his television programme ‘Issues in the News’ on Tuesday evening.

The country’s supreme law guarantees gender equality as a fundamental right and freedom of the individual; Article 149F of the Constitution states “every woman is entitled to equal rights and status with men in all spheres of political, economic and social life” and that “all forms of discrimination against women on the basis of gender or sex are illegal.”

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Anil Nandlall, SC

Additionally, Article 212G of the Constitution establishes a Women and Gender Equality Commission as a rights commission tasked with promoting “national recognition and acceptance that women’s rights are human rights, respect for gender equality and the protection, development and attainment of gender equality.”

In terms of statutory protections, there is a series of legislation designed exclusively to advance the cause of gender equality and to protect women from various forms of discrimination, Nandlall related.

Such legislations include but is not limited to the Equal Rights Act 1990; the Termination of Employment and Severance Pay Act 1997; the Prevention of Discrimination Act 1997; the Domestic Violence Act 1996 and Sexual Offences Act 2010.

Other Parliamentary decrees include the Married Persons (Property) Act 1990 and Civil Law of Guyana Act 1990, which recognise housewives and assures them equal rights to matrimonial assets as working wives, as well as acknowledge common-law unions and guarantee legally unmarried women equal rights as legally married women.

“We have a commendable framework of legislation, policies, concepts and mechanisms within our governmental architecture, as well as within the state apparatus…that aggregate to form a formidable protective network in respect of women, and to advance the cause of gender equality,” Nandlall said.

The referenced institutional framework has facilitated women achieving significant accomplishments, the Attorney General opined, while listing the names of a number of women who held and currently hold various prestigious positions.

Guyana saw Janet Jagan holding the positions of Prime Minister and President, while Justice Desiree Bernard was appointed the first female judge of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) after holding the positions of Chief Justice and Chancellor and Head of the Judiciary of Guyana, the Attorney General recalled.

Today, a number of Ministers of Government; the Chancellor (ag); the Chief Justice (ag); the Director of Public Prosecutions; the Chief Magistrate; the Deputy Chief Parliamentary Counsel; the Deputy Solicitor General and the Chancellor of the University of Guyana are all women, Nandlall reminded.

“I believe as a small country, as a relatively young country, as a country with a relatively small population, I believe that we have accomplished a lot in the area of gender equality,” he said.

He added: “We, in this government, have done well in championing the cause of gender equality and securing an equal place in our country for our women folk.”

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