…First Lady, other ministers urged them to remain vanguard in Guyana’s politics
By Vanessa Braithwaite
SCORES of women from the Upper Demerara Upper Berbice Region, were, on Sunday, urged to remain resolute and to continue pushing to take up spaces in political and social offices, since they possess the potential and strength to do so.
These, along with many other positive advice relative to women leadership and equality, were given by leading women in the APNU+AFC Coalition, including First Lady Sandra Granger, at a grand ‘Green and Yellow Affair’, at the Watooka Guest House, Linden.
The activity was well-supported and saw women travelling from outlying communities such Rockstone, Ituni and Kwakwani, to attend. It was hosted by Minister within the Ministry of Agriculture, Valarie Yearwood, in collaboration with the National Congress of Women and Women for Change. Present were Minister of Public Health, Volda Lawrence; Minister of Public Telecommunications, Catherine Hughes and President of the Women for Change (AFC), Tamara Khan.
In her keynote address, Mrs Granger reminded the Region Ten women that their gender-type has played an integral role in the development of our country, working as the vanguard for political, social, educational and economic change. She detailed the many achievements that have been made under ministries and agencies spearheaded by women ministers. In fact, the First Lady said that it was the first time that there were 11 women ministers appointed, many leading very important ministries, such as Education, Public Health, Foreign Affairs and Telecommunication, and the State. “Our women have shown their mettle and they have proven their worth. In the past four years and nine months, despite the challenges they have faced, despite people trying to cut the life of this government short, we can look with pride on how these women, have laboured long and hard, focusing on improving the lives of all Guyanese,” the First Lady posited.
Four years later, she said Guyana has seen tremendous transformation and growth in the various women-led ministries; in education, performance and delivery standards have improved; in public health, more specialists and medical facilities are available for residents to access high quality health care; in telecommunications, communities across the country, particularly hinterland communities are benefitting from internet access and students across the country are given more opportunities in ICT and STEM; in Social Protection, the lives of Guyanese have improved with the increase in pensions, public assistance and youths are benefitting from empowerment programmes such as SLED.
Despite fake news from political naysayers, the First Lady presented statistics and recorded facts on the progress made over the last four years, with women being at the forefront. “These have all been accomplished, in less than five years and the women I have mentioned tonight have played key roles in their delivery. The APNU-AFC manifesto for our general and regional elections on March 2nd, shows us that greater things are in store for the people of Guyana. The manifesto is a declaration of the APNU-AFC intention to continue its investment in our human, social and economic capital,” Mrs. Granger said.
If the female ministers can do it, the first lady urged the Region Ten women to see the potential in themselves. She urged them to take up leadership roles at the local level, which will position them for national service. “Women I advise you, put yourselves up at the local level, because that is where you are getting your experience to move on to the regional and national level, so start with your groundwork in your communities, build your base and move on and you are getting your experience for national leadership.”
For her part, Minister Lawrence also touched on women’s political role in nation building and in Guyana gaining Independence and Republican status. She alluded to many women in this country’s political history and even paid tribute to the late Sandra Adams, a Lindener, who was a catalyst for change. “They resolutely addressed the myriad of issues and struggles that catapulted us onto the journey to Republican status, which in another seven days, we the Guyanese nation will proudly celebrate the magical landmark of attaining 50 years as a Republic,” she said.
Lawrence said women are strong and mighty, born with a purpose and the ability to lead. This leadership, she urged them to execute on March 2nd 2020, by voting APNU-AFC. “Women in the vanguard, our presence in the realm of politics, law, dentistry, medicine and science, the business corporate….let us pass that on to our next generation.”
Minister Hughes said that while her government made many strides in pushing for women equality, the issue was still a challenging one in society and women continue to face challenges in the workplace and in the wider society. One way to change this, she said, was to ensure more women were empowered through education and were given the necessary tools in ICT. Many programmes were rolled out to ensure women were empowered in entrepreneurship, agriculture and ICT under the APNU-AFC Coalition, and she urged the women to ensure the progress continued come March 2nd. “More and more we see our women taking up positions of leadership in society. We see our First Lady, Sandra Granger, leading the way in empowering women and young girls through STEM and giving women the right tools to enhance their businesses; we see our ministries being led by several female ministers; in our work force, more women are becoming engineers, pilots and now even taking up off shore positions in our oil and gas industry,” Hughes posited.
Minister Yearwood, focused on the spiritual aspect of women and alluded to several scriptures and biblical illustrations on how women stood strong and resolute and took up leadership roles in their spiritual assignments. She urged the women to remain the vanguard as they were faithfully and wonderfully made and were given the purpose to lead. “Our president and our prime minister and this government, they are depending on us,” Minister Yearwood urged the women.
The Green and Yellow Women Rally saw women decked out in fashionable attire and were treated to an evening of entertainment and laughter. Keeping the mood upbeat, were several performances of dance and song. Taking the spotlight, was a green and yellow fashion display, which saw six women walking away with electronic tablets. The event was held under the theme, ‘Women in the vanguard.’