With only 31% women MPs, Guyana aspires for more – Nadir tells global parliamentary forum
By Kurt Campbell in Kigali
Heads of national Parliaments and its members from over 150 such august bodies are gathered in Rwanda with a key focus on addressing gender equality and sensitivity to support a more resilient and peaceful world.
The participation of Guyana’s delegation headed by Speaker of the National Assembly Manzoor Nadir served up representation for the entire Caribbean region with the 145th Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Assembly resolved to ensure the commitment of political will and resources towards the cause.
Nadir was among 31 Parliamentary Heads to speak during the plenary session on Wednesday at the Kigali Convention Centre where he noted that the Caribbean and Guyana have, for many decades, been at the forefront of women and gender issues and the promotion of gender equality at all levels in society.
Currently, 31 per cent of Guyanese Members of Parliament (MPs) are women and almost 25 per cent are indigenous women. With the ministers being drawn from the Parliament, 30 per cent of the Cabinet are women.
But Nadir believes that when compared to other national parliaments, Guyana could do better.
As he puts it: “we are still playing catchup.”
For example, the UAE has reserved 50% of its Parliamentary seats for women and in Rwanda, while 24 seats are set aside for women, the reality is that 61% of the seats are held by women.
The theme of the Assembly is “Gender equality and gender-sensitive Parliaments as drivers of change for a more resilient and peaceful world,” which Nadir said applies to the entire world.
“… and I as Speaker of the National Assembly of the Parliament of Guyana, I am sure I speak on behalf of my entire Parliament, we wholly subscribe to it.”
Nadir pointed out that beyond the Parliamentary level, Guyana and the Caribbean have not shied away from women leading the country as Heads of State.
“Guyana had prided itself, as the only Caribbean country, having legislation which provided for gender quota for candidates in elections.
“Guyana 22 years ago had set in its laws that parties list of candidates must have one third of its candidates as females. This, while not legally compelling’ as part of the Parliament, has been a guiding policy for parties electing and selecting their MPs,” Nadir added.
Also accompanying Nadir at the 145th IPU Assembly are MPs Anil Nandlall and Dawn Hastings-Williams.
They joined Nadir in Guyana’s commitment towards the continued promotion of equal access to education, more women in the workforce, more gender-sensitive legislation and more gender equality in parliament and the parliamentary processes.
MP Hastings-Williams participated in the forum for women parliamentarians.
In a brief interview with the News Room following that meeting, she said focus was placed on the attainment of Parliaments where women are not intimidated or discriminated against.
“One thing that I took away yesterday is making Parliaments more women-friendly. Sometimes we have pregnant women in Parliament and women who have young babies so Parliament must now be able to make the environment conducive to breastfeeding mothers with adequate sanitary facilities,” she added.
Hastings-Williams believes that strives have been made in Guyana to celebrate and accommodate women but said more work needs to be done to ensure gender sensitivity.