National consultation on Commission on the Status of Women attracts diverse participation

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The Ministry of Human Services and Social Security, in celebration of International Women’s Day 2022, hosted a national consultation ahead of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) 2022, with over 80 persons attending.

The event was held at the Guyana Women’s Leadership Institute, Cove and John, East Coast Demerara, a location substantive Minister, Dr. Vindhya Persaud noted that was strategically chosen for its significance.

Under the theme, ‘Achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls in the context of climate change, environmental and disaster risk reduction policies and programmes’, Minister Persaud was joined by Ambassador Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett, Permanent Representative of Guyana to the United Nations and environmental economist, Pradeepa Bholanath as the key speakers.

Deputy Director of Social Services, Hamwanttie Bisessar during her introduction outlined that CSW is the principal global intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women. Bisessar indicated that this forum was a multi-stakeholder engagement which not only gave a perspective from a ministerial level but was informed by all stakeholders in a real and tangible manner.

Minister Persaud told the gathering, which included representatives from Women and Gender Equality Commission, Guyana Defense Force, African Cultural Development Association, National Testimony Church of God, Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha, Guyana Responsible Parenting Association, United Women for Special Needs Children, Dharmic Naujawan, We Care Guyana, Gender Affairs Bureau, Private Sector Commission, National Resource and Documentation Centre for Gender and Development, Support and Heal Network, Adult Education Association and National Committee of Sisters’ Affairs that the recommendations of the room will not be taken lightly, but rather guide the trajectory of the Ministry in the role women play in society and their future.

A section of the attendees during the pre-commission on the Status of Women (CSW) Conference

“Here we are today in a national environment with women and men who are passionate about the advancement of women and we are all quite determined to ensure gender equality does not remain an elusive thing but rather something in this time and era that we could be part of,” the Minister stated.

Minister Persaud highlighted that the theme encapsulates where we are in the world today with the COVID-19 pandemic and the world turning its intention to climate change.

She reiterated that 90 percent of any investment in women goes right back into the economy and their families.

Minister Persaud reminded those in attendance that through the Women’s Innovation and Investment Network (WIIN) over 2,000 women have already been trained. She indicated that more women will be trained this year in a plethora of areas that were once considered male-dominated.

Pradeepa Bholanath posited that it is a timely approach in the context of climate change in Guyana. The environmental economist highlighted that with Guyana’s dependency on its agricultural sector affected by climate change, it has ripple effects on women both financially and in everyday life.

She urged that we start looking into how systems can adapt in ways that can be sustainable, citing transportation and energy use as two key structures of change necessary in the fight against climate change.

Meanwhile, Rodrigues-Birkett recognised that globally women have still not met equality in terms of leadership with only 26 women serving as Heads of State as of September, 2021 which means gender equality in the highest positions of power will not be reached for 130 years.

She pointed out 25 percent of women are parliamentarians globally with 28 percent in managerial positions in businesses.

Rodrigues-Birkett was proud that Guyana does not discriminate against women in pursuing education but continued to urge that more women become educated to achieve independence with the efforts of the Ministry of Human Services serving as one of the pillars to women empowerment even in the rural and hinterland areas.

Many women made frank contributions and recommendations in the interactive segment.

Chairperson of the Rights of the Child Commission, Aleema Nasir said she thought the initiative was “exceptional” with the presentations being both informative and eye-opening with regards to climate change and the role of women achieving gender-equality.

Sargent Claudette Fraser expressed her delight in being part of the activity, taking away some insightful knowledge on the relationship between gender equality and climate change.

She noted that a lot of what was discussed took a different perspective from the normal viewpoint and called for more seminars of this nature.  She also expressed the wish to see more women in leadership positions.

Women who attended were happy with the opportunity to engage at this level and have the opportunity to have their perspectives considered and discussed.

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