Government Creating a Nurturing Environment to Attain Gender Parity

– 8,000 women allocated house lots in 2 years

In just two years of governance, the President Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali-led Government has made significant advances in creating gender parity in Guyana.

Minister within the Ministry of Housing and Water, Hon. Susan Rodrigues made this statement during her keynote address at the third annual Founders’ Dinner of the Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry Guyana (WCCIG), at the Pegasus Hotel on Saturday evening.

Minister within the Ministry of Housing and Water, Hon. Susan Rodrigues addresses those gathered

British High Commissioner, H.E. Jane Miller; Ambassador of the United States of America to Guyana, H.E. Sarah-Ann Lynch; President of WCCIG, Ms. Rowena Elliot; Founders of WCCIG, Mrs. Lyndell Danzie-Black and Mrs. Kerensa Gravesande-Bart; other members of the chamber, and the public and private sectors also attended.

Referencing the 2022 Global Gender Gap Report by the World Economic Forum, the Minister stated that Guyana ranked 35th out of 146 countries on gender parity. This she noted is 18 levels higher compared to Guyana’s 53rd position in 2021 and accomplished in just one year of governance.

“When you see women achieving all of the things they are achieving it’s because we have the right policies [and] the right programmes. These things don’t happen by accident,” said Minister Rodrigues. She added, “when crafting a policy you have to think about how this benefits everyone but more so you have to put an emphasis on vulnerable groups and women fall into that category, people with disabilities and young people.”

Minister within the Ministry of Housing and Water, Hon. Susan Rodrigues (right) is presented a token of appreciation by WCCIG Co-founder, Mrs. Kerensa Gravesande-Bart

In terms of Economic Participation and Opportunity, Guyana is currently 53rd, compared to 105th in 2021. As women take up more parliamentary positions, the country earned the 37th place in the world for such representation, thereby surpassing Jamaica, Barbados and the United Kingdom. Moreover, Guyana has also achieved equal rights for justice, reproductive autonomy, the rights to divorce and rights to inheritance. Near equality was also attained for access to finance and land assets.

Since taking office in 2020, the Administration allocated over 18,000 house lots by the end of October 2022. Minister Rodrigues noted that approximately 8,000 (44%) of these allocations were women, who were sole applicants. Meanwhile, allocations to women with joint applications stood at 5,137 (28%). It was further highlighted that the New Building Society (NBS) and Guyana Bank for Trade and Industry (GBTI) have loaned $17.3 billion and $4.4 billion respectively, to women for mortgages and commercial purposes.

“We’ve come from a period in history where women had no rights. We didn’t have the right to vote. We went through the Suffragette Movement so that women could be allowed to vote. Women could not own land, now more and more women are owning land, owning their own homes and owning their own businesses. And that’s because too you have a climate here in Guyana created by the Government, the PPP/C Government, that is private sector friendly and that’s because we understand the importance that the private sector plays in any country,” Minister Rodrigues stated.

Minister within the Ministry of Housing and Water, Hon. Susan Rodrigues (center from front row) interacts with attendees

Underscoring a number of other initiatives by the Government to develop women, the Minister spoke of the recently inked carbon credits agreement with Hess Corporation that will see $US112 million injected into Amerindian communities. She highlighted that a number of Amerindian households, which are headed by women will be directly impacted. Under the multi-million Black Belly Sheep Project launched by President Ali, at least 20% of farms are expected to be women-led and 30% have youth involvement. Further, the International Building Expo 2022 hosted by the Ministry of Housing and Water in July, saw scores of women-led businesses reporting growth following the exposure to local, regional and international companies. The government has also implemented a number of other programmes and policies through the Office of the First Lady, Ministry of Human Services and Social Security, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Tourism, Industry and Commerce etc. to improve the lives of Guyanese women.

While the World Economic Forum reports that it will take another 132 years to attain global gender parity, Minister Rodrigues said that the PPP/C Government will continue to make the necessary investments to ensure it is accelerated in Guyana.

“I believe that Guyana will be a shining example in creating gender parity sooner than many countries in the Caribbean, in South America and in the world as a whole because we have shown great strides already and the prosperity that is coming to our country will ensure we get there even faster,” the Minister affirmed.

She also applauded WCCIG for its role in creating a space for the social and economic development of women and encouraged more public and private sector organizations to play their role to stimulate equality. WCCIG also launched its Women Empowerment Programme Theme Song: ‘More Than Worthy’ by Simeon Browne and presented several awards to women in business at the event.