Female ministers talk up single-parent registry
Stabroek News – April 30, 2008
The Human Services ministry led a team comprising the female Cabinet ministers to educate the public on the importance of the single-parent registration process in the light of its May 15 deadline.
The registration process is a precursor to the disbursement of the $100M assistance budgeted for this purpose, a Government Information Agency (GINA) press release said. Registration has since been conducted in regions two, three, four, five and six.
Minister of Human Services and Social Security Priya Manickchand said this initiative is one of several being undertaken to assist vulnerable persons. It was noted that with the rising food prices and other increasing pressures single parents are facing, this initiative has been developed to cushion the effects.
Manickchand said that in single parent households children feel the brunt of the effects as many of them do not attend school or have limited access to education.
In this regard, the minister said she met with head teachers in the regions to get them involved in the sensitization and distribution of the registration forms. The registration process is aimed at garnering data to create a national single parents register which will inform the types of interventions needed for each parent. Manickchand said in addition to financial assistance government intends to provide training for parents to allow them to develop a skill and subsequently a small business to sustain themselves.
Meanwhile, Minister within the Ministry of Finance Jennifer Webster said that with the increase in the number of single-parent homes headed by women, “there is greater demand from women and their income to sustain the livelihood of their families.” Therefore establishing a database will inform government’s decision-making. Webster said too that poverty reduction remains a critical tenet in government’s development agenda.
According to Minister of Amerindian Affairs Pauline Sukhai, the support and action to register single parents is much more critical for the hinterland residents and families.
She said many reports have indicated that there is much vulnerability there. “At the Amerindian Affairs Ministry we have been distributing the forms and we have most regions covered. It is hoped that schools and Toshaos and councillors will be able to encourage single parent families in their communities to register,” Sukhai said. She commends the establishing of the programme, calling it timely.
GINA said the assistance is not only available to vulnerable women and biological parents but to men and all persons who are solely and primarily responsible financially for the well-being of a child/children. Sukhai said that is important because in the hinterland communities there is a complex mixture of issues particularly in communities close to the mining and forestry areas.
In the light of this Minister of the Public Service, Dr Jennifer Westford said that the government has been taking into consideration the plight of the vulnerable workers and several interventions have been held over the years.
She said there are 1,850 single-parent households in the public service arena. Westford noted that her ministry is aggressively pursuing registration to ensure an accurate database. “This would then influence the interventions which would be tangible, meaningful and long-term,” she said.
The other Cabinet members who included Presidential Advisor on Governance Gail Teixeira, Indra Chandarpal and Minister within the Ministry of Education Dr Desrey Fox also commended the initiative. Despite government interventions they also posited that fathers needed to be reminded of their responsibilities towards their children.
GINA said over 200 completed registration forms have been returned to the Human Services Ministry for verification and subsequent data basing. Single parents can also uplift forms at regional and neighbourhood democratic council offices, schools and from social workers in their communities. The form is also available at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation and at GINA’s website located at http://www.gina.gov.gy