…coalition’s women leaders talk-up progress made to advance welfare of women
By Svetlana Marshall
ADDRESSING a massive sea of yellow and green supporters at Parade Ground, Minister of State, Dawn Hastings-Williams spoke to the significant progress made in empowering women and girls across Guyana under the current A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) Government when the coalition held its Women’s Rally on Thursday.
Williams, to loud cheers, said women, like never before, are being empowered, elevated to high offices, financially equipped and recognised for their contributions to the development of the country. “Under the David Granger Administration women will continue to be empowered and women will achieve greater heights under the APNU+AFC,” Minister Hastings-Williams assured the crowd of predominantly women.
Cognizant of the contributions women continue to make to the economic and social development of the country, Minister Williams said the APNU+AFC Government has ensured women in Guyana receive equal pay and opportunities. “APNU+AFC has started to empower women and we will continue to empower women. We will empower them to take their rightful place in high positions,” she iterated.
Even as the massive crowd roared with excitement, Minister charged Guyanese to vote overwhelmingly for the APNU+ AFC Coalition come Monday, March 2 when the nation heads to the polls in the highly anticipated General and Regional Elections. Noting that the APNU+AFC is a party for all Guyanese, the State Minister said it is important that the governance of the country remains in the hands of the coalition, which has to date demonstrated prudent leadership.
Minister Hastings-Williams, however, was keen to note that flags and party paraphernalia will not return the APNU+AFC coalition to power. “Flags do not win elections; green jerseys do not win elections, green caps and green shoes do not win elections, women it is your votes that count, so make sure you vote the right way and the correct way and in the correct place,” she charged the massive crowd while lobbying their continued support for the Granger Administration.
Transforming lives of women
Meanwhile, Minister of Public Health, Volda Lawrence, who upon appearing on stage flaunted her customised APNU+AFC hand bag while modeling to the calypso “Woman is Boss,” said the rally was a significant event ahead of General and Regional Elections.
Like Hastings-Williams, Lawrence said President David Granger, since taking office in May 2015, has taken strategic steps to enhance and transform the lives of women, regardless of their geographical location, colour, race, religion or creed.
“We can stand here tonight with great pride, heads held high because of his (President Granger’s) respect for women. The voice he has given us, irrespective of colour, creed or ethnicity, and his resolve to implement initiatives and interventions of all kinds to improve our lives. He wants to maximize our potential and to empower us so that we can move forward together,” Minister Lawrence said.
Importantly, she said, safety and security have been restored in Guyana after experience close to a decade of crime and violence. Pointing to the reduction in the Trafficking in Persons (TIP), Minister Lawrence noted that more and more Guyanese women and girls are being provided with equitable opportunity to ensure they access to education at the nursery, primary, secondary and tertiary levels. In 2019, Guyana has, for the third consecutive year, maintained its Tier 1 ranking in the United States (US) State Department Report on Trafficking in Persons (TIP). The country was praised for the significant efforts made in combating Human Trafficking while providing protective care for victims.
President Granger and the First Lady were also recognised for restoring families by the granting of presidential pardons, in addition to the steps taken, through the B’s Initiatives, to increase school attendance among school-aged children. Added to that, the Public Health Minister noted that women continue to benefit through Sustainable Livelihood and Entrepreneurial Development (SLED), Women of Worth and the Hinterland Employment Youth Service (HEYS).
Between 2017 and 2018, 3,038 women benefitted from the HEYS Programme. “That programme was also provided to girls and of the lot, 1,347 girls benefitted,” she added. In the Health Sector, she said since 2019, 453 Registered Nurses, 150 midwives, 298 Nursing Assistants and more than 500 community health workers were trained and deployed across the length and breadth of the country.
Importantly, she noted that there has been a sharp reduction in maternal deaths due to better health care services. Statistics show that there has been a 75 per cent reduction in maternal deaths.
Addressing them as women and girls in the vanguard, the People’s National Congress/Reform (PNC/R) Chairman, took the women back to the period of Guyana’s history when Guyanese endured heightened criminal activities compounded by extra-judicial killings, low wages and under development. Guyana, she posited, should never return to such a period. It was on that note she urged Guyanese to throw their support behind President Granger and the APNU+AFC coalition.
Ministers Lawrence and Hastings-Williams were among the key speakers for the Women Rally. Notably, the thousands of supporters were kept on their feet by Minister within the Ministry of the Presidency, Simona Broomes, who chaired the programme, which was enriched with cultural displays by Guyanese talent.