Women's Issues In Guyana

Bajan Breakthrough – 25 years of legal abortions

Posted in Health Issues,Legislation by wiig on April 29, 2008
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Stabroek News – April 29, 2008
(Reprinted from T&T Review – March 3, 2008 )
By Sanka Price

As a politician there are some issues that no matter what decision you make, you are certain to anger a significant segment of the population.

One such issue is the legalisation of abortion.

You’re damned if you support it, and you damn others to suffering if you don’t.

Abortion is an issue that has strong religious, medical, and social arguments for and against it. And each side thinks they are correct.

Those who favour the right of a woman to decide if she should have an abortion are “pro-choice”. They see their goal as the empowerment of women, and the need to stop the death, disability, disfigurement and debilitating conditions scores of women endure from botched, ‘back street’ abortions.

Equally strong views are presented by those who maintain that once there is conception the emphasis must be on preserving the life of the foetus. They argue that although a woman has a right over her own body, she has no medical or legal right over the foetus because it is a separate individual with its own DNA, blood supply, and maybe, even a different blood type. (more…)


Minister Manickchand represents Guyana at Distinguished Washington Roundtable

Posted in Gender Equality,Legislation by wiig on March 14, 2008
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Guyana Chronicle – March 14, 2008

MINISTER of Human Services and Social Security, Ms. Priya Manickchand participated in the Senior Roundtable on Women’s Justice hosted by the Department of State, on Wednesday in Washington, DC.

In honor of International Women’s Day, the Department of State, with the participation of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, brought together a small, senior group of judges, legal practitioners, government officials and human rights advocates from around the world to address the growing problem of domestic violence, as well as the challenges women worldwide face in gaining equal access to courts and justice systems.

In addition to Secretary Rice, Retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and Andrea Jung, Chairman and CEO of Avon Products, Inc. delivered keynote speeches at the Roundtable, according to a statement yesterday from the U.S. Embassy in Georgetown.

Minister Manickchand was selected as one of 17 international invitees based on her work in advocating women’s rights and her overall contributions to the social development of Guyanese society. (more…)

For women like her, today do have some relevance

By Shirley Thomas
Guyana Chronicle – March 10, 2008

WHILE some may dismiss dedicating a special day to prayer and women as rhetorical and an arrant waste of time, for 34-year-old Bonita Leitch such observances do have some merit in her eyes and are of profound significance.

For this Tain Corentyne housewife truly knows the meaning of pain and suffering, as she’d been left by the roadside to bleed to death by the man she thought she knew and loved after he’d taken a cutlass to just about every inch of her body.

To make matters worse, he’d stood guard over her as she lay there lost to the world, his blood-drenched cutlass at the ready, daring anyone, even her children, to come to her assistance.

Then when the enormity of what he’d done really sank in and he realized that the police were hot on his trail, he decided to end it all by taking his own life. They found his lifeless body hanging from a tree on the Corentyne foreshore.

Ironically, even after enduring such agony and humiliation at the hands of this fiend, yet still she had feelings for him, and from her hospital bed sent him a message saying that she still loved him and was willing to forgive him. But by then he was already dead. (more…)

Violence still major cause of concern for women – Caricom Secretariat

Stabroek News – March 10, 2008

In its message for International Women’s Day, the Caricom Secretariat says violence still remains a major cause for concern for women and girls and boys. It is estimated worldwide that one in five women becomes a victim of rape or attempted rape and one in four women has been beaten or abused or will be during their lifetime. To achieve traction on issues such as violence against women, the prevalence of HIV and AIDS among young women, poverty and representation in decision-making bodies there is a need for strong actors and even stronger commitments by stakeholders, the message said. The facts are that women as a group generally have a higher incidence of poverty than men and within the Caricom region, women’s participation in parliaments continue to be less than optimal, falling short of the 30% target.

Generally, strides in gender sensitive approaches have been more likely to be considered in the social sector; education, and to some extent, health, but less so in the “harder” areas of finance, trade, transport, rural infrastructure and in emerging areas of focus such as sustainable development. This, in no way, diminishes the progress made in some areas of legislation and policy, labour market participation and increased access to public resources, the release said. (more…)

Women still pressing for recognition of unwaged work

Posted in Education,Gender Equality,Legislation by wiig on March 8, 2008
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By Iana Seales of Stabroek News – March 8, 2008

The low-key kind of appreciation that women are shown for their contributions to the society is likely what many will get today on International Women’s Day.

Minister of Labour Manzoor Nadir recently told Stabroek News that while unwaged work deserved more than the usual recognition it earns in the home, the day that that will happen is not today.

After more than a decade since the Fourth World Conference for Women in Beijing in 1995, when a platform for action was set up, issues of inequality remain current. Unpaid work, however, is not seen as much of an issue in Guyana, even today.

But homemaker Valencia Baddeir rates unwaged work as the single most important work in the country because it holds everything together. She believes that if women who do caring unwaged work pull their services, the economy would be in serious trouble.

As a woman who made a decision to leave the labour force and manage things at home because it seemed the smart thing to do, Baddeir said someone needs to publicly thank her and she does not mean her next of kin. She said government, perhaps through the Minister of Labour or the Minister of Human Services and Social Security, needs to come out and say publicly that without caring contributions such as hers, everything that could go wrong in the country will. (more…)

Violence against women increasing, Human Services calls for national action

Guyana Chronicle – March 8, 2008

THERE is increasing incidence of violence against Guyanese women and girls, the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security said yesterday and called for national action across all divides to confront the problem.

The Ministry’s statement comes as Guyana joins the rest of the world in observing International Women’s Day.

“The reality is that our women and girls are becoming increasingly vulnerable in our society today,” the Ministry stated, noting that violence against women and girls are particularly reprehensible when committed by employers, partners and even relatives.

“The time has come to break through those walls of silence and turn legal norms into reality in women’s lives,” the Ministry stated.

“That means, society as a whole must take responsibility and work for enduring change in values and attitudes,” the Ministry added, pointing out that governments and international organizations must operate in close partnership with social services, voluntary and professional organizations, private sector and the broader public.

“It means we must all, women and men, work for a transformation in relations between women and men at all levels of society,” the Ministry stated, calling for women to make a change.

“Let us not give up hope. We still have a battle ahead. We have to make a difference,” the Ministry stated. (more…)

The UN campaign to end violence against women is most welcome

Letter to Editor of Stabroek News – March 7, 2008

Dear Editor,

I write to commend you on your fine editorial captioned “It can’t wait” which appeared in SN on Saturday, March 01. It seems to have been spurred by the fact that on the previous Monday, “UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launched a multi-year global campaign bringing together the United Nations, governments and civil society to try to end violence against women.”

I confess to coming within an inch of dancing in the streets over the news of this UN campaign. I hope that it will be vigorously and resolutely pursued in a sustained way, and that SN and its women writers will contribute significantly towards keeping this matter on the front burner where it most certainly belongs.

I had expected to see swarms of letters in SN from women and women’s groups on this very, very important topic. Did I miss something? But perhaps the Guyanese society is still in shock and still trying to come to terms with the recent horrific manifestations of man’s inhumanity to man that need to be denounced unequivocally in the strongest terms. (more…)

Amerindian Affairs Minister in stern warning on statutory rape

Stabroek News Editorial – March 1, 2008

On Monday last, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launched a multi-year global campaign bringing together the United Nations, governments and civil society to try to end violence against women, calling it an issue that “cannot wait.” This campaign, themed “Say No to Violence against Women”, runs until 2015, the same target year as the UN’s Millennium Development Goals.

Monday also marked the start of 16 days of activism to end gender-based violence, which has been described as “a hidden pandemic”. Apart from the obvious – domestic abuse and partner-based violence – according to the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), violence against women manifests itself in some $9.5 billion in earnings for human-trafficking criminal networks, in such harmful practices as female genital mutilation, in the young women and girls who constituted 61 per cent of people living with HIV in Africa and in the use of rape as a method of warfare.

In an impassioned speech at the launch, the Secretary-General noted: “But there is one universal truth, applicable to all countries, cultures and communities: violence against women is never acceptable, never excusable, never tolerable.” A simple truth, one might think. So how is it that so many people don’t seem to get it?

At the community level, there are still too many people who think that some women deserve to be beaten by their men. And there is a whole list of circumstances where they find this acceptable: if she cheats; if she doesn’t prepare his meals, launder his clothes or clean the house; if her behaviour embarrasses him, among others. (more…)

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