SINCE being elected to office in 2015, the David Granger administration has made significant strides towards delivering on promises made to Guyanese women. This fact has resulted in women being afforded opportunities, the likes of which have never been seen before. In this regard, the APNU+AFC coalition government has exceeded expectations, and women may now enjoy a better life than was possible under the People’s Progressive Party’s restrictive and neglectful regime.
The continuously improving conditions that women now enjoy are inextricably interlinked with the concept of gender equality. According to The United Nations (UN), gender equality means that women and men, and girls and boys, enjoy the same rights, resources, opportunities and protection. It does not require that girls and boys or women and men be the same, or that they are treated exactly alike. Instead, those resources, opportunities, and protection depend on the particular needs of citizens.
There is no doubt that women have, historically, been at a distinct disadvantage with regard to opportunities. Unfortunately, that state of affairs still exists; in some parts of the world, women are not even allowed to drive a car or to go outdoors unaccompanied by a man. In Guyana, conditions are better; there is currently legislated equity between the rights and entitlements enjoyed by women and those to which males are entitled; however, laws alone are not sufficient to ensure equity. This is so because, historically, women were viewed as subservient to men, and that cultural bias — having become ingrained — must be rooted out in order for full equality to be realised. It is to this idea that the David Granger administration has committed itself. His Excellency has promised that “Government will continue to work with women’s organisations, law enforcement, and international organisations, among others, to achieve the goal of equality. The ultimate result should be women having a greater say in decision-making in all spheres of life.”
President David Granger has kept his promise. The President has emphasised that economic empowerment is key to a better standard of living, and therefore, the administration continues to support more female entrepreneurs. Through the Small Business Bureau and the Women of Worth (WoW) initiatives, there has been an increasing number of women receiving funding and grants to help them grow their businesses, including in the areas of agriculture, agro-processing, cosmetology, event planning, jewellery design, manufacturing, and other enterprises. Government has allocated greater resources to tackle domestic and sexual violence, such as the establishment of a new taskforce to help vulnerable women leave abusive relationships. The construction of new women’s shelters across Guyana is an ongoing exercise; improving the provision of healthcare for women is also a priority. For example, a new vaccination programme against the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) has been initiated and continues nationwide with the objective of preventing cervical cancer. It is now a priority to improve the level of maternal and child medical care with the objective of reducing infant and maternal mortality rates. The Granger government has initiated a Gender and Social Inclusion Policy, which aims to tackle negative economic, cultural and social practices that hinder equality. The administration has established a three-year GyGirlPower campaign which is being funded by €30M from the European Union to encourage girls to study science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) subjects; areas that have traditionally been dominated by men. Those are just a few of the programmes that have been initiated by the David Granger government. Remarkably, all of the programmes undertaken by the government have shown measurable tangible, positive results.
Evidently, to date, The APNU+AFC coalition administration has an enviable track record of meeting its commitment to delivering higher quality services to Guyanese women. The president has kept his word and continues to introduce innovative programmes intended to benefit women in all spheres of life. The government continues to make great strides towards gender equality, and, as a consequence, women may now enjoy a better life. Of course, although much progress has been made, there is still much work to be done. As such, Guyanese must ensure that the gains that have been made are not lost; citizens should cooperate with the government to guarantee that Guyana continues along the path towards full equality for women