– US Ambassador to Guyana, D. Brent Hardt
ON the occasion of International Women’s Day, observed worldwide yesterday, United States Ambassador to Guyana, D. Brent Hardt, has assured that the US Embassy will continue to reach out into the Guyanese community to support and recognize women who are making a difference. To this end, he said the embassy is planning to host a symposium focusing on ‘Strategies for Successful Women’ that will bring together women from across the social spectrum to discuss their distinctive challenges and opportunities.
Ambassador Hardt likened women to “a cornerstone of America’s foreign policy, because the simple fact is that no country can hope to move ahead if it is leaving half of its people behind.
“Women and girls drive our economies.
They build peace and prosperity,” he said, noting that investing in women means investing in global economic progress, political stability, and greater prosperity for everyone.
“As we honour women of courage, let us renew our resolve to work for the cause of equality each and every day of the year,” he added.
Referring to remarks by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Ambassador said they have particular resonance as people around the world celebrate International Women’s Day and continue to make strides for women’s progress.
“What we are learning around the world is that if women are healthy and educated, their families will flourish. If women are free from violence, their families will flourish. If women have a chance to work and earn as full and equal partners in society, their families will flourish. And when families flourish, communities and nations will flourish,” Secretary of State Clinton said.
Ambassador Hardt recalled too, that in December, President Obama released the first-ever U.S. National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security, charting a roadmap for how the United States will accelerate and institutionalize efforts across the government to advance women’s participation in preventing conflict and keeping peace.
This initiative, he said, “represents a fundamental change in how the United States will approach its diplomatic, military, and development-based support to women in areas of conflict, by ensuring that their perspectives and considerations of gender are woven into the fabric of how the United States approaches peace processes, conflict prevention and the protection of civilians.
The US Embassy also sought to participate in non-governmental initiatives such as the “Witness Project,” launched by the Margaret Clemons Foundation that used photography of eyes of children and the faces of Guyanese from all walks of life to spark a nationwide discussion on domestic violence and how to reduce its incidence.”
Likewise, USAID has supported Karen de Souza’s and Red Thread’s efforts through a grant that provided the NGO with a mechanism to work more directly with victims of domestic violence. This grant allowed Red Thread to advocate for a change in the way domestic violence issues are addressed by the police, government officials, and the general public. USAID also awarded a grant to the NGO Help and Shelter, which made it possible to strengthen the skills of counsellors for victims of domestic violence, an issue that emerged during the Women and Gender Equality Commission’s forum.
Another USAID grant to the Roadside Baptist Skills Training Centre enabled the Centre to establish community programming, to enhance the counselling skills of community leaders, establish ongoing peer counselling programmes in high schools, and create a Men’s Forum, Ambasador Hardt said.
THE US Embassy’s nomination this year for the International Woman of Courage (IWOC) Award, is Karen De Souza, founder of the NGO Red Thread.
US Ambassador to Guyana, D. Brent Hardt, who made the announcement in a message to honour women on International Women’s Day (IWD), said Ms De Souza is credited for her work to raise public awareness about domestic violence, continuously demanding action from politicians, and supports women in their daily struggles against domestic violence.
He said she has challenged these tragic issues that affect so many women and children, and has made great strides in raising national consciousness about this scourge and in challenging the all too common social acceptance of violence.
“As we rightfully honour the achievements of dedicated women such as Karen de Souza, we are also reminded that International Women’s Day is an opportunity to renew a broader call for action, investment, and commitment to women’s equality at this moment of historic opportunity, he added.