Women's Issues In Guyana

Scotia Bank executive calls for investment in women, equal opportunity

Posted in Gender Equality by wiig on October 20, 2007
Tags: , ,

Stabroek News – Saturday, October 20th 2007

Scotia Bank Managing Director Amanda St. Aubyn is advocating investment in women and the creation of equal business opportunities.

The Scotia Bank executive made this call while addressing the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s (GCC&I) second business luncheon.

St. Aubyn who is the first female and the first Guyanese country manager of Scotia Bank spoke yesterday on the topic “Women in Business” at the luncheon which was held at the Ocean View Convention Centre.

Meantime, Col. (ret’d) Carl Morgan, President of the GCC&I, remarked that apart from the luncheon being a source of financing for the Chambers, the speakers incorporated into the event are expected to give participants value for their money. He reiterated too that women are playing an important role in the society, hence the topic.

Guest speaker St. Aubyn, in her address to the mainly female audience representing large, medium and small businesses, said that her objective was to awake, rekindle and reinforce the awareness of the absolute importance of women in business.

She asserted that women can be empowered in Guyana by giving them equal opportunities, but she noted that for some time to come women may not hold a great number of the top positions but if they are supported in small businesses they could reach higher positions sooner than expected. “We need to invest in women,” the Scotia Bank managing director maintained.

Drawing upon her life she noted that she has had 27 years in the working environment, but she also brings a perspective of business from her direct experience of being in a family that operated a small business. St. Aubyn stated that her widowed mother had seven children to care for and provided for her family by operating a small business.

The managing director explained that when women are afforded equality of opportunity, the potential for development is greater.

And quoting studies and reports she indicated that 2/3 of the world’s unpaid work is done by women while 2/3 of the world’s paid work is done by women who receive 10% of the world’s income.

The Scotia Bank executive encouraged the businesswomen to be aware of their progress and analyze what lies ahead, since it is like pressing through a labyrinth and all labyrinths have a viable route to the centre.

She pointed out that some of the longstanding challenges and obstacles are prejudices that benefit men and penalize women. St. Aubyn then called for the creation of opportunities that provide mentoring relationships and which focus on men and women for leadership positions. She said that micro-loans have allowed more women to access loans since banks shy away from handing loans to women.

Women, she noted, receive some 30% of the micro-loans at Scotia Bank and 33% are joint loans (men and women). Women clients were said to make a special effort to repay their loans.

Addressing the social ills of domestic violence, she noted that this contributes to loss in productivity and in the United States it costs the economy US$1.2B each year and adds up to millions of lost paid working days.

Meanwhile, former GCCI President Capt. Gerry Gouveia asked St. Aubyn how could women strike a balance between the workplace and their family life and the managing director admitted that maintaining that balance is probably one of the most difficult experiences she has had. Many women, she said, do not have a choice and choose to stay at home while others make the choice to be in the work environment. “I do not think there is any quick fix,” she answered.

Gouveia said he believes that the nurturing of the world’s future population is important and suggested that there can be a paradigm shift where men share more responsibility. And St. Aubyn said that although she had seen that paradigm shift while overseas, she reiterated that in many families “that is not the choice” although both parties are responsible for the family.

In March Scotia Bank donated $415,000 to the NGO counselling agency ‘Help and Shelter’ to celebrate and support International Women’s Day on March 8. Scotia Bank’s efforts at promoting and empowering women earned the bank the 2007 Catalyst Award, presented in New York in March, which recognized the bank’s corporate initiatives that support the recruitment, development and advancement of women.

More than 70% of employees of the Scotia Bank Group are women and operations are in 25 countries plus affiliates. Local branches are in Essequibo, Berbice and the capital Georgetown. (Nicosia Smith)

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