Today marks International Women’s Day and President Dr Irfaan Ali is leading the way on behalf of the Government, in saluting the immensely important role that Guyanese women play in the development and integration of the society.
The Head of State made this affirmation during a press conference held on Sunday at State House, two days before the world celebrates International Women’s Day. President Ali took the time to pay homage to women in general. According to him, there is a reason women have a specific day dedicated to celebrating their achievements.
“Let me be very clear…there is a reason why a specific day is earmarked for the celebration of International Women’s Day and that is because of the value that women bring to our society and our country.”
“This is because of the integral role women play in building societies and building country. I just want to salute all women in Guyana, the region and around the world, for the strength of character, for the dignity, the honour, the pride, the simplicity, in which they go about every day changing lives, changing countries and changing communities.”
He encouraged those gathered irrespective of gender to recognise not just the contributions but the roles women continue to play. As he put it, the contributions made by women are just part of the integral role they play.
“All of us… we owe it to women everywhere to celebrate, not their contribution; contribution is a minimal approach at looking at this, but celebrating their integral role in the development and integration of societies.”
Guyana joins the rest of the world to commemorate International Women’s Day and joins in celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women’s equality. This year’s theme is “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow”.
Also celebrating the day was Prime Minister, Retired Brigadier Mark Phillips. But while he lauded the contributions made by women, Phillips also noted that much more remains to be done to achieve gender equality and women’s empowerment as outlined in Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5.
“Once again, we take a moment to observe International Women’s Day. This year, this occasion is being held under the theme “Gender Equality Today for a Sustainable Tomorrow” and highlights the contributions of women in the area of climate change, the environment and sustainability.”
“This particular observance serves as just another stark reminder of the long way we must go to achieve gender equality. An assessment of the current injustices faced by women does not paint a pleasant picture: an unbelievable increase in violence against women and girls across the world brought on by the pressures of the pandemic; rising poverty among women and gross under-representation in decision-making positions are only a few of the challenges that women continue to face globally.”
According to the Prime Minister, the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government recognises the importance of women’s empowerment and the provision of equal opportunities for women and girls in Guyana.
In fact, he reminded that the empowerment of women, children and vulnerable groups was enshrined in the PPP/C manifesto, including proposals for incentives and programmes to access microfinance in the commercial banking system, the establishment of women’s micro and small businesses through training, mentoring and grants and increased mainstream participation in governance.
He also noted that since its launch in July 2021, the Women’s Innovation and Investment Network (WIIN) Programme has seen over 1500 women gain access to skills training in various areas; additionally, he said that more than 4000 women will have the chance to start up or enhance their small businesses through the recently launched “Empowerment Fund”.
“This past weekend, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security hosted its second “We Lift” exhibition, which I had the honour to attend. That event was a pioneering one. It created a platform for women to display their talents and innovative products, services and ideas,” he said, lauding the dynamism on display during the event.
Phillips also noted that the Government, Private Sector, communities, large groups and individuals – including men – all have a role to play in the drive for gender equality and the empowerment of women.