Minister of Social Protection Amna Ally’s speech at the Regional Gender Equality Strategy and BEIJING+25 Summit

Minister of Social Protection Amna Ally’s speech

At the Regional Gender Equality Strategy and BEIJING+25 Summit,

Herdmanston Lodge

March 4, 9:00 am

I am quite happy to be here at the opening of such an important forum that has brought together representatives from diverse organizations that share a common goal and interest to empower our women and girls and to ensure that their human rights are upheld.

The 25th anniversary of the beijing platform of action represents a milestone in the global movement towards gender equality. In 2020, the global community will observe the twenty-fifth anniversary of the fourth world conference on women and adoption of the beijing declaration and platform for action (1995). A five-year milestone will be reached towards achieving the sustainable development goals of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development. Thus, 2020 will be a crucial year for the progressive realization of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls, globally.

The beijing declaration and platform for action of 1995 is a visionary agenda for the empowerment of women. It still remains today the most comprehensive global policy framework and roadmap for action, and is a current source of guidance and inspiration to realize gender equality and the human rights of women and girls, everywhere. And its stature and significance as a roadmap for the achievement of gender equality remains undiminished.

As guyana undertakes a comprehensive national-level review, this summit will further facilitate and enhance the review process by examining the achievements we have made in gender equality and the empowerment of women, and its contribution towards the full realization of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development through a gender perspective. It will enable us to identify the current challenges and gaps as well as examine future plans to accelerate implementation at the national level.

As we approach the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the beijing declaration and platform for action, there is a renewed sense of urgency, a recognition that we are at a turning point for women’s rights, a recognition that realizing gender equality, the empowerment of women and the human rights of women and girls must be a persistent and continuous task.

Guyana has made significant progress in the status of women since the adoption of the beijing declaration and platform for action. I wish to note that the government of guyana remains committed to promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women in all spheres of life.

Government policies and programmes focuses on reducing poverty and improving and equalizing access to goods and services throughout the country to all, but most especially the poor and vulnerable. Government initiatives and programmes to enhance the livelihoods have been prominent themes in our national budgets, however, these have significantly expanded recently. From 2015 to present there have been several key and progressive interventions to strengthen the programmes and policies to support our women and girls.

It is important for me to mention that in strengthening the national machinery, government has developed a national gender and social inclusion policy.

The national gender and social inclusion policy is expected to be implemented during the second quarter of 2019 and will aim to mainstream gender issues into all sectors in order to eliminate all negative economic, social and cultural practices that impede equality and equity. It will strengthen links between government, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector in mainstreaming of gender, in the respective sectors and develop, maintain and provide gender sensitive information and gender disaggregated data for use in planning and project implementation at all levels and in all sectors.

The important role education plays in changing a girl’s life and society at large can never be understated.  That is why i am happy that guyana now has a policy for the reintegration of teenage mothers. This policy has support measures that will enable teenage mother to continue their secondary education in schools. In addition to that, i wish to note that government will continue to work with our partners to address sexual and reproductive health and rights.

It is well known that limited access to finance for women to pursue business ventures can be a major hurdle and impede their economic development. Cognizant of this the ministry of social protection continues to play a crucial role in facilitating the economic empowerment of women through the sustainable livelihood entrepreneurship development programme (sled) which involves income generating projects, also women and single parents can access small grants to start up small businesses.

We continue to empower our women through the guyana women’s leadership institute, in 2018 the institute hosted workshops in all the administrative regions on gender and local government: entitled “female decision makers”, these workshops were geared to promote a platform that equip women with the requisite skills and knowledge to improve their individual and institutional competence within their communities and at the different sectoral areas, throughout the various stages of any community undertaking.  A total of 460 women have benefitted to date.

Guyana continues to make progress on the status of women in public life and has been maintaining steady ratings with regards to representation of women in parliament. It is well ahead of many developed countries on the women in national parliament index. According to the 2018 index women hold 31.9% of seats in the national assembly in guyana.

Progress within the education sector has been significant and evident. Guyana has made progress towards achieving universal primary education. In addition, guyana has met its target of eliminating gender disparity in primary and secondary education, and strives towards parity at the tertiary level.

Although we have recorded impressive gains in the purview of women’s’ advancement, there are still complex challenges that women continue to grapple with in our country. These includes unequal representation in the work place, gender based violence, cultural practices which compromise the education of girls and the health of young women and girls.

I must emphasize though, that these challenges are not unique to guyana. Women across the region as well as women globally are negatively affected by detrimental cultural practices and persistent discrimination. While a national response is important, i believe that we in the region have much commonality, thus, a collective approach is sometimes critical especially when identifying and informing the international community about the challenges we face.  That is why i am pleased, that this forum will also function as a consultative process for the caricom secretariat to finalize the draft regional gender strategy.

In closing, i wish to note that, more than ever, urgent and sustained action is needed to transform the structures, institutions and norms – economic, political and social – that are holding back progress on gender equality. These systemic changes must be profound and irreversible if we are to achieve the 2030 agenda.

Equality between women and men is a matter of human rights and a condition for social justice. It is also a necessary and fundamental prerequisite for equality, development and peace. Therefore, guyana will continue to work with our caricom sister countries and the un to promote and protect the full enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms of women and girls throughout their lives.

I thank you!

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