CAD $2.25M project launched to safeguard women against gender-based violence

The ‘EQUAL Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR)’ project, an initiative that seeks to safeguard women and girls against Gender-Based Violence (GBV), and empowering them to make decisions about their sexual and reproductive health was on Monday launched.

The CAD $2.25 million programme is a collaboration among Guyana, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and Canada.  It targets women and girls from Regions One, Seven, Eight, and Nine, including Indigenous women and girls and Venezuelan migrants.

Human Services and Social Security Minister, Dr. Vindhya Persaud

Persons of diverse gender identities, gender expressions, and/or sexual orientations, persons living with disabilities, and sex workers will also access the programme. 

Delivering remarks at the launch, Minister of Human Services and Social Security, Dr Vindhya Persaud reiterated that the government will continue to focus on the development of women and girls and vulnerable groups. 

Minister Persaud signing the symbolic project work plan

“I believe this initiative, another partnership, which sees international and local partners coming together to address the key issue of sexual and reproductive health and rights could not have been timelier. I say this because it is concentrated in Regions One, Seven, Eight, and Nine, where we do acknowledge as a government, we need to amplify the efforts that have been made.

Canadian High Commissioner to Guyana, Mark Berman signing the symbolic project work plan

“Dr. Hamilton’s report on the Ministry of Health’s work is a reassuring one because it really sets out very clearly a vision to, I would say, encourage more services, robust services, accessible services, and inclusive services,” Minister Persaud stated at the Canadian High Commissioner’s residence.

She said focus must be placed on the formal avenues of education and awareness, and creative ways of educating people to make better choices.

Canadian High Commissioner to Guyana, Mark Berman

“I want to say that as we tackle sexual and reproductive health, it is important that we don’t look at it and allow a week, but we look at it exactly as presented this afternoon in the wider context because it has an impact on family life, morbidity, mortality for children and women. And of course, the wider social construct that we live in.”

Canadian High Commissioner to Guyana, Mark Berman, during his remarks, highlighted that the initiative demonstrates Canada’s commitment to empowering women and girls and reflects Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy.

Dramatic performance (MISP Objectives5 – Preventing unintended pregnancies)

It also aligns with the priorities of the Government of Guyana, which has made significant progress in promoting sexual reproductive health and rights for women and girls.

“Over the years, the Government of Guyana has made significant strides to help women and girls who are the victims of gender-based violence. Canada prides itself on working together closely and collaboratively with the government of Guyana, these initiatives and others, the project will help women and girls to have body autonomy and to make essential decisions about their problems.

A section of the launch

“There are still pockets of the population that are unable to access sexual and reproductive health services and support for victims of gender-based violence. And that’s why this project was conceptualised. The focus as has been said will be on increasing the access and quality of these critical health and support services.”

The Canadian High Commissioner emphasised that the project will work with public providers of health care and civil society to increase access to the quality of sexual and reproductive health services provided to rural women and girls throughout Guyana.

The project will contribute to the achievement of SDG three-Ensuring Healthy Lives and Well-being for All and SDG five- Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women and Girls.