16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence: Arlyne Ramdatt: Versatile woman embracing importance of women’s empowerment

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As a versatile woman who has long embraced the importance of female empowerment, Arlyne Ramdatt, an Education and Outreach Officer with Blossom Inc, can easily be labelled as “more than a special person to Essequibo women” for her many achievements over the years.

From a young age, she was able to distinguish herself at the Abram Zuil Secondary School, where she, as the head prefect, was always actively involved in youth development activities. Additionally, the young empowered woman formed her first youth group during her latter years of secondary schooling, and was able to successfully mentor several youths.

Arlyne Ramdatt

As she matured, she was able to secure a significant place in both the region and her country. In fact, she recognised the need for youth and women’s empowerment, and, about a decade ago, started to direct her attention to addressing these important challenges. She ventured into these fields with the conviction that women do not have to limit themselves to customary feminine roles, since they also have the ability to succeed in any area, much like their male counterparts.

Ramdatt believes that it was necessary for her to enhance her academic qualifications in order to build capacity to serve the nation’s youths and women. However, since this publication would be hard-pressed for space to elaborate on all of Arlyne’s outstanding accomplishments, a decision was understandably taken to highlight a cause that she has been championing that has been helping to empower the vulnerable. This cause is one through which she has been seeking to open the eyes of those in our society to take a stand against many ills, especially domestic violence.

“I graduated with a BSc in Clinical Psychology, attended several training programmes, and presently I am pursuing two Masters, in Metaphysics and Psychology. I must continue to equip myself with skills and use my previous knowledge and experience to continue to empower survivors of gender-based violence and several social ills,” this empowered woman has said.

Ramdatt also elaborated on her journey towards empowering women. She stated that while moving across Guyana, particularly in the hinterland communities, she was afforded opportunity to better comprehend how victims of gender-based violence are affected, and the approaches and interventions necessary to address these challenges.

Arlyne Ramdatt speaking to members of the youth group Fem Power

Ramdatt added, “As a result, several on the ground training programmes and outreaches were conducted since my employment with Blossom Inc. as Education and Outreach Officer in Regions One, Seven and Eight. Previously, I served the same NGO as a Forensic Interviewer working with (victims)of child sexual abuse.”

Ramdatt told this publication that social ills are generally interrelated, particularly in a small developing country like Guyana. It is her strong view that a collective approach is needed to tackle same, which is why she and her colleagues are focusing their interventions on raising awareness as it relates to gender-based violence, strengthening referral systems and multi-stakeholder partnerships especially in the hinterland communities.

In addition, they are also conduct training in other areas, such as Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, Child Sexual Abuse, and Life Skills.

“This year, with COVID and all the lockdowns, we certainly anticipated the challenges this would pose, and so, with the funding provided by the European Union under the Spotlight Initiative and UNHCR, we were successfully able to have a positive impact in the communities served. However, there is still much more to be done. Empowering families and recognising the fact that young people are assets to be developed and not problems to be solved cannot be underscored,” Ramdatt has said.

“I am committed to sharing my knowledge and working with key stakeholders to enhance lives and build safer communities for children and families in general.” Ramdatt pointed out.

After this vibrant woman had completed her secondary level education, she first started working at one of the most prestigious banks in the world, the Republic Bank, where she served for about 7 years. However, her passion was always in psychology, even before she actually knew what psychology really was. Whether it was at school or at work site, Ramdatt was always the one her friends and peers would seek out whenever they needed someone to confide in or seek advice from. Adding to that, she was always quite approachable and always willing to help. However, because of her willingness and generosity to people, she later moved on to volunteer with PTAs, women’s, and youth groups. However, her approach to women’s empowerment has always held a strong psychology base, and so she focuses more on self-awareness and strengthening coping skills in survivors.

“I have provided psychotherapy services for many survivors of GBV over the years, and have seen these women grow and heal themselves. Empowerment, knowledge and employment opportunities, along with access to resources, particularly mental health services, are integral components for a successful solution to gender-based violence,” she disclosed.

Ramdatt told this publication that her final note and observation is that, often, persons are not really seeking advice. She noted that what many individuals seek is a safe space in which they can freely express themselves, and where there is someone who actively listens and understands them. In most cases, people know the solution to their problems.

“They just need the motivation. So, I would say whether it’s a family member, friend, or stranger…let’s be compassionate. Create safe spaces for people to express their feelings without being judged. Be supportive as they share their experiences, and let them know they are loved, valued and cared for. These little skills can go a very far way in making a positive difference in the lives of so many (who are) coping with several challenges.” said Ramdatt, who is today being recognised by this publication as our motivator and counsellor for her tireless effort aimed at helping to give hope to women experiencing domestic violence in today’s society.