Georgetown, Guyana – (August 28, 2015) The Women and Gender Equality Commission (WGEC) in collaboration with the University of Guyana, today launched the institution’s first Gender Studies Unit (GSU). The launch was held as part of the agenda of the National Conference on Gender and Development Policy, which commenced yesterday at the Arthur Chung Convention Centre, Liliendaal.

First Lady Mrs. Sandra Granger was in attendance at the launch of the Unit, which will see UG partnering closely with the University of the West Indies (UWI) and York University in Canada.

Meanwhile, Minister of Social Protection, Volda Lawrence said that this new Unit now have the opportunity to question the concept of development with regards to the socially constructed basis of differences between men and women.

“Here is the chance for the University of Guyana’s Gender Studies Unit to point planners in the direction of incorporating new gender policy approaches such as mainstreaming, which I described as putting democracy into practice, it advocates equal treatment of both sexes and the right to equal participation in all spheres of live,” the Minister said.

Wife of Guyana’s Prime Minister, Mrs. Sita Nagamootoo spoke on the importance of gender equality in the formulation of public policy. She said that failure to ensure that gender-based issues are thoroughly addressed and improved, will result in the perpetuation of new and existing forms of oppression against women and will inevitably undermine national efforts to eradication inequality.

This launch of this Unit is seen as a significant milestone, which had been in the making for over four years to transform the gender landscape between the University community and the nation. It builds on the response to Guyana’s need to address problems facing women as well as to advocate for, and promote their capacity to contribute to nation building as equal partners of development.

UG’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Jacob Opadeyi said that gender studies matter since it improves people’s understanding and perspective of the world around them and teaches them how to be considerate, and to be supportive and respect each other.

He emphasised that students need to be placed in an educated environment where they understand gender equity and where self-esteem and equality are paramount.

Chairperson of the WGEC, Indra Chandarpal in her remarks, said that even though a women’s studies unit was established in 1984, there has been no viable unit that can properly respond to the needs for teaching and research on women and gender development as well as a range of other pertinent issues such as gender-based violence, poverty, discrimination against women in the work force and the under-performance of boys in academia.

She also spoke of the need for Guyana’s education system to be more accommodating of the concept of gender equality especially in its curriculum design and service delivery which, generally, should be more gender-sensitive.

The National Conference on Gender and Development Policy was a promised made by the APNU+AFC Coalition Government in its 100-day commitment to the nation. It was held under the theme, “Equal Rights for All: Be Good to People”.

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