Georgetown, Guyana – (August 20, 2015) The Ministry of Social Cohesion, today, held its third preparatory meeting with members of civil society. Participants at the meeting were given the opportunity to contribute to the crafting of the framework for building social cohesion and addressing equality throughout Guyana.
This consultation is part of the preparatory activities in the lead up to the National Social Cohesion Round table Discussion, which will be held at the Arthur Chung Convention Centre on September 3. The activity is also in keeping with the Ministry’s focus on ensuring that civil society plays an important role in supporting and collaborating with the Government on such programs.
Two preparatory meetings were held on the June 11 and July 24, coupled with regional stakeholder sensitisation outreaches to facilitate a national dialogue on social cohesion, programme planning in general and support the organising of the national round table.
Project Coordinator of the Ministry of Social Cohesion, Roxanne Myers told the representatives from the various organisations that the Minister and the Ministry of Social Cohesion did not feel that the work can be achieved if the civil society is not involved.
“We did not believe that we can sit in a room filled with selected people and craft a plan. So we have reached out to our civil society actors, all stakeholders, all interested parties and all our inter-related Ministries to work on what we would have at the Round table, for making Guyana cohesive. It is not the work of the Ministry alone but all of us,” Myers said.
President of the University of Guyana’s Student Society, Joshua Griffith, who was one of the participants, told the group that there is a need for political cohesion first before the country can become cohesive. To this end, he said that politicians must condemn out rightly any attempts of segregation and discrimination and this in turn will be practiced by the citizens.
“We need to have our politicians come out and make public statements that work toward the development of social cohesion. That is an important need. We have to push for a way to have the political leaders to be a part of this forum,” Griffith said.
He also encouraged education on embracing differences and promoting country pride especially in the nursery and primary schools.
Meanwhile, Bishop Francis Alleyne of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Georgetown shared that he is of the view that healing and reconciliation from the past is important if Guyana is to move forward. Bishop Alleyne further added that the diminishing faith of Guyanese in the judicial systems of the country is a major cause in the breakdown of cohesion and leads to an approach that is “aggressive and tribal.” In the regard, he said that justice must not be elusive, but should be served when it is needed.
Other opinions which were shared included the provision of social and economic opportunities and opportunities for the youth in the areas of culture and sport.
The event was attended by representatives from several key organisations including; the United Nations Association of Guyana, the Guyana Women Miners Association, BLUE CAPS, African Cultural Development Association (ACDA), Roman Catholic Church, the BAHAI, Red Thread, Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD), Rights of the Child Commission, Women and Gender Equality Commission, Merundoi Incorporated, Let’s Keep Guyana Clean, Conservation International (Guyana) Incorporated and the Guyana Prison Services.