Five-year strategic plan seeks to strengthen available mechanisms to foster gender equality

The Women and Gender Equality Commission (W&GEC) has outlined a five-year (2021-2026) strategic plan which outlines a comprehensive process through which the Commission can advocate and support “a gender just and equitable society in Guyana”.

The W&GEC, which falls under the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security, outlines a number of objectives in the plan, among them, advocacy for gender justice through concrete national and community-based actions; and collaborative national and local actions, which will promote gender and social justice.

Minister of Human Services and Social Security, Dr. Vindhya Persaud

Minister, Dr. Vindhya Persaud during her address at the Beijing+25 Fourth World Conference on Women had noted that, “Even the best plans and policies cannot create change unless they are implemented. The Government of Guyana understands that and that ‘women’s rights are human rights’ and we commit to accelerating the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.”

According to the United Nations Economic and Social Commission of Eastern Asia, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action is described as a visionary agenda for the empowerment of women. It is also one of the reference frameworks to analyse the situation of women around the world and to assess the efforts of States in support of women’s empowerment.

It was adopted by consensus in 1995 following the mobilisation of over 40,000 government delegates, experts and civil society representatives at the Fourth World Conference on Women, the Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action embodies the commitment of the international community to achieve gender equality and to provide better opportunities for women and girls.

The W&GEC highlights the need for strengthening legislative, policy and investigative capacity. This would be done by keeping the legislative and policy environment under scrutiny through partnerships with relevant stakeholders with legal competencies so that informed recommendations could be made to the National Assembly.

The Commission also proposes to strengthen its investigations and complaints mechanism with the allocation of the necessary resources to address needs as they arise. Further, it is advancing efforts to build the human and financial capacity.

As it relates to Guyana’s progress towards achieving gender equality, Minister Persaud said Guyana has eliminated gender disparity in primary and secondary education, and is striving towards parity at the tertiary level.

“Teenage mothers are reintegrated into the education system with parallel programmes for those pursuing non-formal education. We have also intensified our focus on our indigenous girls and girls living in rural communities to ensure that they have equal opportunities,” she had highlighted at the Fourth World Conference on Women.

She noted too, that Guyana is putting economic value to unpaid domestic and care work and encouraging healthier partnerships with men and boys, especially in terms of shared household work.  

Childcare assistance is also offered to essential workers to help women participate equally and competitively in the workforce.

The Strategic Plan is built on five pillars access, equity, economic justice, participation, and human rights. These pillars are aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) five and ten, which speak to gender equality and reduction of inequality within and among countries.

The W&GEC says social justice will be promoted through strategic collaborations and initiatives will be designed to target the most vulnerable and disadvantaged group.

This year, the Human Services Ministry has been allocated $30 billion, which the minister said will be utilised to improve the various departments within the Human Services Ministry, to enhance the livelihood of citizens.

 Focus would also be placed on eliminating gender-based violence in collaboration with the Ministry of Home Affairs.