OP-ED | Women need only an inch of support
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By Margaret Burke

IN every aspect of life in Guyana, women, once given the opportunity, positively perform at their optimum. Most of them follow every lead to develop and enhance their lives. In this regard, they continue to play pivotal roles in the social and economic development of Guyana and the Granger-led administration has been giving them due recognition. There has been a revolution in the global socio-economic landscape and women have had significant inputs.

President David Granger has consistently demonstrated his commitment to be a trusted supporter of women. So far, 40 per cent of his cabinet positions are held by women – double the global average. Women have also been appointed to state boards and constitutional commissions in significant numbers.

The President has actually emphasised the importance of gender parity, in relation to women in this society. Therefore, every female minister of government must be seen as a way of empowering women as a whole in the country. As women, they can be considered as being lifted to higher levels. However, they are not there for themselves, but for every citizen who may need their assistance in direct or indirect ways. Hence, they are empowered to help their womenfolk in every possible manner, but are also obligated to be of service to the men as well.

Women and economic independence
“It is my belief that if women were economically independent; if they were educated and if they were empowered, we would not have this sort of domination and domestic violence that are taking place in this country.  So, I call upon you my sisters, to move the process along by ensuring that your girlchildren particularly, can get to school, that they are protected from abuse, that they are given education and that they can take control of their lives,” said President Granger

First Lady Mrs Sandra Granger, on the other hand, stated, “Girls and our women have to be educated and independent and to know their power; to know how they are going to spend their money and to know how they are going to make the demands that come with that power and that comes with that sisterhood; then is when we will really start to see women moving forward.

“My husband and I talk often about education, and we also talk about the burdens on women, particularly single women who are parents of children and struggle to get them to school and to put a roof over their heads and feed them…” she posited.

Emphasis on entrepreneurship
In this regard Mrs Granger, using her office of First Lady, has been carrying out effective training programmes, with particular emphasis on training and development of women all across Guyana. The plan is to make women employable at every possible level – to foster women’s entrepreneurship, as well as women for employment in the public or private sectors.

So far through her office as First Lady, nearly 1000 women from every region across Guyana have been trained through the First Lady’s office in Self-Reliance and Success in Business Workshops since 2015. In addition, a total of 1,042 women received training in Care for the Elderly, First Aid in Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation and Early Childhood Development training at many workshops.

Further, the President 5Bs Initiative provided hundreds of bikes and many buses and boats. This means that thousands more children in rural, hinterland and urban areas are now able to attend school as a result. In fact, it was reported that families in Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) have been able to save an average of $72,000 per day, $360,000 a week and $1.4 million a year due to the President 5Bs Initiative.

Such situations say to mothers and fathers that your children now have better chances to stay in school and be educated. The APNU+AFC promises high quality and free education, which has already started.

What is probably of much more importance is that your sons and daughters are now safe from the very serious transgression, where many were innocently assassinated, leaving families still reeling from such tragic losses.

Barriers to women
Studies have highlighted the importance of training and education as openings to women, especially in areas of entrepreneurship, revealing that education and training are crucial for the development and creation of entrepreneurs under any system. And indeed, there have been many benefits derived from these and other training sessions for women across Guyana.

The education and training workshops are continuing to provide new entrepreneurial skills. These include business skills and knowledge which the participants have gained. And these workshops have demonstrated that entrepreneurship programmes can indeed help create new businesses, grow existing ones and generate new jobs. Such a situation has become reality all over Guyana. Many women are willing to come forward to talk about direct employment they have gained. More than that, there are many more women who are anxious to speak about their entrepreneurial abilities, which they are currently putting into action – with multiplying effects.

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