Georgetown, Guyana — (March 9, 2018) First Lady, Mrs. Sandra Granger, last evening charged the women of Guyana to become activists for gender parity, education, and the elimination of domestic violence in order to truly transform Guyana. Mrs. Granger made delivered this charge at the Ministry of Social Protection’s ‘I am Woman’ Celebration for International Women’s Day, held at Parc Rayne, Rahaman’s Park, East Bank Demerara.

“Notwithstanding our different ages, races, religions, and social and economic background, we women who make up over half of the population of this vast and beautiful land, must seize the incentive and become activists wherever we live; in the cities, towns, or villages, on the coastal plain or in our vast interior, to transform the lives of women – and men – throughout the length and breadth of our country,” she said.

The First Lady also said that activating Guyana’s women and girls will be the key to unleashing the country’s fullest potential. “Our activists across the country must encourage and train our women and girls to become involved in decision-making at the community, neighbourhood, regional and national levels. Our women and girl children must dream big dreams and, through the joint effort of women across this land, they can, and will make those dreams a reality. This is how we will transform our society. This is how our country will achieve its full potential,” she said.

During her feature address, Mrs. Granger also emphasised the importance of urban, coastal female activists working together with their hinterland counterparts toward the achievement of gender equality throughout Guyana.

Minister of Social Protection, Ms. Amna Ally, said that the celebration of International Women’s Day, themed, ‘Time is Now: Rural and urban activists transforming women’s lives’, provides time for much needed reflection on the challenges women face. “Today we honour the women who have tirelessly fought and dedicated their lives towards advancing gender equality in Guyana. Promoting gender equality and empowerment of women in all spheres of life remains a national priority of the Government of Guyana and this global event provides us with the opportunity to assess the progress made in keeping with national priorities, international obligations. It allows us to examine the challenges, face and seek measure in which we can overcome these challenges to achieve gender parity,” she said.

Minister Ally also announced that the Ministry’s Gender Social Inclusion Policy will be implemented this year. “Today, I am proud to announce that the Ministry of Social Protection has formulated a national Gender and Social Inclusion Policy, which will be implemented this year. This policy aims to mainstream gender issues into all sectors in order to eliminate all negative, economic, social, and cultural practices that impede equality and equity… We are confident that the implementation of this policy will take the nation one step closer to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) because the 2030 agenda recognises the crucial importance of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls… as essential,” she said.

Women attending the event were happy to be celebrated and, after having been empowered by the First Lady, eager to give feedback of their own.

Ms. Nirmala Hendricks was pleased at the event’s emphasis on female empowerment. “Today means empowerment for me as a woman and I think that this event… promotes what needs to be done in society; that is empowering our women… to be strong and stand up for their rights,” she said.

Ms. Carmen Simon said that women are the bosses of the home. “We are the bosses… we have to deal with all the finances in the home and make sure the home is run properly… get the children right and [the] husband also… [Men] are just at sometimes the bread winners, but we are the boss,” she said.

Recognising that despite the vast achievements of women in Guyana, there is still much to be done, Deputy Mayor of Bartica, Ms. Kamal Persaud said, “We deserve respect. We deserve to be secure. We deserve to feel safe. We deserve equal opportunities in our job. We deserve equal pay. We deserve to be in a safe and loving, nurturing, environment.”

The event featured a seamless cultural presentation of song, dance, poetry, and drama, which was written, directed and produced by Public Information and Press Services Officer to the President of Guyana, Ms. Lloyda Nicholas-Garrett, along with co-writer Mr. Randolph Critchlow and choreographer Ms. Vivian Williams. Performers included members of the National School of Dance and the National Dance Company, the Mosaic Choral Speakers and former Miss Guyana World, Ms. Nuriyyih Gerrard. The closing item for that cultural presentation was a stirring rendition of ‘Woman is Boss’ by the reigning Calypso Queen, Ms. Onikha Joseph. Other performances of the evening came from the Worship in Spirit and Truth (WIST) Ministries and Gospel singer, Ms. Cherlyn Maloney. Members of Government, Parliament and the Diplomatic Corps were in attendance.

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