Today, the Ministry of Social Cohesion salutes and celebrates the achievements of Guyanese women, and women all across the globe on the occasion of International Women’s Day. Today, we remember women’s struggles for equality, for the right to education, for the right to vote, for the right to work, for the right to fair remuneration and access to support services. Today, I applaud their perseverance and accomplishments and commit to supporting initiatives that acknowledge their human rights.

It has been said that a feminist is anyone who recognises the equality and full humanity of women. I am proud to sit at the helm of a Ministry that promotes and fights for women’s rights, and equality for both men and women. The Ministry of Social Cohesion was birthed by a vision to create a country where all are equal, regardless of race, religion, gender or any other demographic.

We also recognise that in order to achieve gender parity the role of both parents is most important. Parents are a child’s first teacher and their influence on their choices, both as children and later, as young adults, and their role in nurturing children, who become productive members of society can never be overemphasised. Proper nurturing of children in the home by parents cultivates positive values and virtues such as love, respect, care, consideration, discipline and responsibility. It is important too for fathers to be positive role models for both their sons and daughters. In the absence of a father figure, the burden falls on the mother to ensure that boys and girls grow into young men and women who respect each other.

As the Minister charged with the responsibility for Sport, I also want to underscore the importance of equal participation of girls and boys in sports as it teaches the values of perseverance and discipline. It only takes one determined effort to shatter barriers and create a level playing field, whether in the sport arena, in the classroom, in tertiary institutions, in the professional field and in the wider society.

As a country, Guyana has made significant strides in in ensuring equality and equity. Women have taken charge of their households, although more often out of necessity rather than by choice; have taken charge of their education and their earning power and have inspired other women to do the same.

Today, Guyanese women, and those around the world are not only excelling in traditional fields of employment, but they are successfully forging their way into careers that were once male-dominated and considered unsuitable for women.

Today, Guyanese women are surpassing their male counterparts in education; they are taking the lead in higher paying, once male-dominated occupations, such as in Information Technology, Engineering and Finance and they are pursuing non-traditional careers such as auto electricians, minibus and taxi drivers, carpenters, farmers and so many more.

Guyana also has a vibrant complement of female activists, law enforcement officials, social workers, journalists, politicians and other professionals. Importantly too, we have women working tirelessly with and without a second parent in the home to raise their children. Since women account for more than 50 percent of our population, it is clear to see that Guyana has a bright future.

The Government recognises that more has to be done to protect our women from gender-based violence and to strengthen the capacity of more women to take on leadership positions and become strong drivers of economic growth and social change. We will continue to work to achieve these goals.

Women, today we celebrate and commend you for your contributions towards building our beautiful country.

Happy International Women’s Day!

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