Prime Minister Nagamootoo and High Commissioner Chatterjee share their offices with young women to show that #GirlsBelongHere

The International Day of the Girl is a special day designated by the United Nations to raise awareness of girls’ rights around the world. In advance of the 6th International Day of the Girl, the High Commissioner of Canada to Guyana, Ms. Lilian Chatterjee, challenged the Honourable Prime Minister Moses V. Nagamootoo to join her in participating in Plan International Canada’s #GirlsBelongHere initiative. Prime Minister Nagamootoo rose to the challenge! On October 10, 2017, both he and Chatterjee shared their offices with two young women as part of the global advocacy campaign to show that girls and young women belong in such key decision-making positions – and anywhere else they may set their sights on.

Prime Minister for a Day

Prime Minister Nagamootoo has the portfolio of governance and human rights and has noted that globally the rights of girls and women have not always been respected. He remarked that “the right to information and the right to be part of the decision-making process at the highest levels are important factors for all women and for society as a whole.  Therefore, the opportunity to bring recognition to the importance of girls in society is one to fully embrace.”

Prime Minister Nagamootoo shared his office with 19-year-old Martina Nedd. Ms. Nedd is currently interning at the Office of the Prime Minister as part of the practical application of her studies at the Bertram Collins College of the Public Service and aspires to work in the field of finance. She called her surprise role as Prime Minister for a Day an exciting opportunity that she will remember for the rest of her life.

The Prime Minister shared that he believes Guyana is moving well with regard to representation of women in Government, at the Parliamentary and Cabinet level, but that there is still much more room for growth.

High Commissioner for a Day

The High Commission organised a social media competition highlight Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy asking interested candidates to explain how a feminist approach to development could help girls overcome existing barriers to success. High Commissioner Chatterjee shared that it was a tough decision as the submissions were quite remarkable. Ultimately, however, there could only be one winner: Ms. SherryAnna Balkaran.

High Commissioner Chatterjee believes that achieving gender equality requires transforming unequal power relations and challenging social norms that limit opportunities for women and girls and restrict men and boys to specific roles. “Everyone has a role to play in making gender equality a reality,” she told Balkaran in her hand over meeting Tuesday morning.

Twenty-year-old SherryAnna Balkaran hails from Paramakatoi and just last week won the Heritage crown 2017.  Referring to Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy, Balkaran said, “I must commend the Canadian Government for adopting such a policy and recognising that we, women, have rights as well. Universally women are being suppressed. I’ve noticed it first-hand in the indigenous communities that I’ve visited and so, I hope to make a difference in the world. I hope to encourage others to do the same.”

In their respective roles as High Commissioner and Prime Minister for the day, the young ladies met with the Speaker of the National Assembly, Honourable Dr. Barton Scotland and the UNICEF country representative, Ms. Sylvie Fouet. Balkaran “hosted” a tea at the Official Residence of the High Commissioner for all the young ladies who had submitted entries as well as Prime Minister for a Day, Ms. Nedd. They discussed current issues affecting girls and young women in Guyana today. However, both Balkaran and Nedd agreed that the best part of the day was a visit to Cabinet and meeting His Excellency, President David A. Granger.

On welcoming the young ladies, President Granger stated “We are all very happy to have you here and I will say without fear of contradiction that we endorse everything that you have said. Our respect for our girl children, our respect for each other, our respect for diversity in our community and we hold gender rights as being one of the key in our pursuit of social cohesion and equality.”

Canada led the call for an International Day of the Girl at the United Nations to help raise awareness of the discrimination girls’ face, as well as their tremendous potential. The #GirlsBelongHere initiative is part of a global mass initiative led by Plan International. Prime Minister Nagamooto joins the Prime Minister of Canada, Prime Minister of Finland, Vice Prime Minister of Belgium, the Canadian Minister of Defense and others in enabling more than 500 girls in 60 countries to step into their dream roles.

 

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