Guyana made significant strides in gender equality, female empowerment
– “Guyana is currently in the process of formulating a country program document due November” – Min. Ally tells Committee on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women
DPI, Guyana, Saturday, July 13, 2019
“Guyana has made progress in gender equality and the empowerment of women,” said Minister of Social Protection, Amna Ally, as she presented Guyana’s National Statement on the Ninth periodic report at the 73rd Session of the Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), held at the United Nations Headquarters in Geneva Switzerland on Friday.
Minister Ally said this was in keeping with UN Convention. She also noted that despite financial and institutional constraints, and with a population of less than eight hundred thousand, the Government of Guyana has made legislative reforms and implemented national legislation which was consistent with the object and purpose of the CEDAW.
Citing examples, the minister mentioned the passing of; the Domestic Violence Act, No. 18 of 1996; the Prevention of Discrimination Act, No. 26 of 1997; the Representation of People’s Act; the Combating Trafficking in Persons Act 2005; the Marriage Amendment Act 2006; the Sexual Offences Act 2010; the Childcare and Development Services Act 2011 and the Common Law Union (Amendment) Act of 2012.
“We have established two sexual offences court in two regions where the highest population resides and have had approximately 50% convictions from those prosecuted.” Minister Ally reported.
Guyana’s penal system was indeed working, she added.
“Policemen and officers are now being held accountable for crimes committed… We are cognisant of our challenges… but we remain resolved and committed to doing more to implement the convention and to uphold the human rights and dignity of all persons in their diversity,” the minister declared.
She told the gathering that Guyana attaches great importance to the committee’s comments and recommendations to progressively advance the agenda of the rights of women and girls.
More importantly, she noted that funding has been allocated to complete a document, in collaboration with relevant international stakeholders, which will provide the data to serve as guidance in identifying ways of tackling women and gender issues.
“Guyana is currently in the process of formulating a country program document with the assistance of EU, UN agencies and other key stakeholders, including victims and survivors of violence. It is expected to be finalised and approved in November 2019.”
The government, she said, also recognised its responsibility to ensure that legal gaps were removed to prevent discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
In this regard, she noted, “the Ministry of Social Protection has established an active dialogue with stakeholders and is working towards the path to filling these gaps to prevent discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity… despite the many challenges we continue to encounter such as cultural attitudes of many within our society, the Government of Guyana remains firmly committed to protecting and promoting the dignity and freedom of every human being.”
On the subject of ‘women in politics’, the minister informed that section 11b of the representation of People’s Act, Chapter 1:03 “allows for the inclusive participation of women in decision-making processes”. The act stipulates that one-third of the list of representatives of each political party wishing to contest the national and local elections must be women.
“Women sit as elected members on the executive of All major political parties. During the period 2011–2015, women occupied 33 percent of the seats in the National Assembly however, this has recently increased to 36% in 2019 and at the level of the Cabinet, women now comprise 40 percent of all members,” the minister informed the committee, noting that Guyana will continue ensure the advancement of gender equality and empowerment of women and girls.
Guyana is a signatory to CEDAW and is obligated to submit a report once every four (4) years. The report, which addresses such issues as trafficking and exploitation, employment, education, and equality, covers the period 2011 to 2015.
See the transcript of Minister of Social Protection, Hon. Amna Ally’s entire speech on the link provided.