Social Protection Ministry to heighten protection of young girls

GINA, GUYANA, Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The Ministry of Social Protection will be partnering with various Ministries and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in 2017 to establish a committee aimed at protecting young girls. Minister of Social Protection, Volda Lawrence explained that following the recent high level meeting on adolescent girls and teenagers, the Ministry is awaiting a report to establish the committee to respond to challenges facing young girls.

Minister of Social Protection, Hon. Volda Lawrence

Minister of Social Protection, Hon. Volda Lawrence

“At the conclusion of that report, we will be able to set up a committee so that our approach to addressing our adolescents and our girls, in particular, will be a holistic one because we recognise from the Ministry of Social Protection’s side that we have to ensure that we have strong families who can take care of their children, who can be able to go out to work knowing that their children are safe,” Minister Lawrence explained.

The Social Protection Minister told the Government Information Agency (GINA) that the team of Ministers and NGOs will create a well-designed plan for children.  “The Ministry of Education plays a pivotal role to ensure that the girl child and our adolescents, that they receive an education that is second to none. The Ministry of Health provides safe spaces and spaces whereby young people can feel free to go and have their check-ups, so we want to ensure that we can approach it in a holistic way,” Minister Lawrence explained.

Additionally, the Minister noted that staff capacity of the Child Protection and Agency (CPA) has been increased. This is to ensure that there is an adequate number of officers in communities to address the various challenges young girls are facing. She added that efforts are also in place to establish the Early Childhood Development Unit that will work with Daycare Centres to ensure that children are in a safe and healthy environment.

“We will ensure that they subscribe to the various standards that have been set, and that they work their way into those standards. We’re not seeking to close anyone down, but we’re hoping that we can establish that partnership,” the Minister pointed out.

The Early Childhood Development Centres now have to be licenced and must have continuous interaction with the Social Protection Ministry, along with other supporting agencies including the Guyana Fire Service, Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) and Ministry of Health among others. “We will continue to hold workshops with them so that we can meet to that stage where we will be pleased with what is happening within that centre.”

Further, the Ministry of Social Protection has employed more staff in the counter Trafficking in Persons unit while someone has been employed in the department to tackle legal issues.

“For too long many reports have been coming in, and the process goes on forever in order to correct the deficiencies which existed within the department. We had a very wonderful interaction with the DPP, we met with the acting Chancellor and Commissioner of Police because we wanted to ensure that when we set out to protect our children, that we’re getting it right,” the Minister pointed out.

This will help the Ministry in taking the right approach when dealing with issues of trafficking of young girls, abuse, or child labour to prosecute the cases successfully in the court.

The Minister highlighted that currently the Ministry is in partnership with the Sisters of Mercy and is working on signing the Memorandum of Understanding to utilise the building available for females who were trafficked. “There is a special home for them, and they can gather the support. We can send them back to school; we can give them the counselling, they can be supportive of each other who would have gone through the same trauma and we are very grateful for that.”



By: Ranetta La Fleur