Improved justice for about 10,000 to 12,000 women and girls in Guyana, and other indirect beneficiaries, is the goal of a new project funded by the Canadian government.
This new project is called “Strengthening Justice for Women, Girls, and Indigenous Peoples in Guyana” and it joins several other projects initiated to improve access to justice locally.
Country Representative and Project Director Lisa Thompson said that the project is meant to evolve through a consultative approach, wherein solutions will be developed only after consultations with people in the indigenous communities.
“We’re hoping to work with 10,000 to 12,000 Guyanese girls and women with a focus on remote and indigenous communities.
“We have our ultimate outcome. It is increased realisation of rights to inclusive, quality, and gender-responsive justice for women, girls and indigenous victims of sexual and gender-based violence in Guyana,” Thompson said.
She acknowledged that this four-year programme does have an ambitious, overarching goal but emphasised that people must become cognisant of their rights and the services available to them.
Thompson also noted that women and girls are not the only individuals vulnerable to sexual and gender-based violence. She, however, underscored that they are disproportionately affected.
Though this project, key stakeholders will benefit from training to better respond to sexual and gender-based violence. That includes police officers, members of the judicial branch of government and other justice actors benefitting from training on how to respond to survivors more appropriately.
The project also seeks to engage indigenous leaders, building their capacity to provide support to survivors of violence and direct them to the avenues for justice. Further, the project should see all the stakeholders collaborating more to guarantee justice for women and girls.
Essentially, Thompson explained that the project aims to improve individuals’ access to justice while simultaneously improving the quality and accessibility of services offered by various local law enforcement, judicial institutions and government ministries.
The project is being executed by the Justice Education Society.
Minister of Home Affairs Robeson Benn acknowledged that this project is much-needed since women and girls, particularly indigenous women and girls, grapple with the scourge of violence in their communities.