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Life in Guyana is a challenge even for the imaginative and well-meaning. Acceptance of this does not ignore challenges in other countries, but what makes the situation in Guyana at times seem intolerable is the quality of some leaders that stalk the corridors of influence and power. The verb is deliberate given the sense that they seem to be more predatory and self-serving in disposition.
Women are the most affected by the pandemic and the floods- the twin crises-both of which have a lot to do with poor management by the state and the state’s negligent interest in the wellbeing of the citizens. These crises are taking a toll on women’s wellbeing. Wellbeing here refers to a person’s physical, mental, emotional, financial, and spiritual health, all of which are equally important. Women are hurting the most but are not having a role of significance to help make a difference.
The political head table is devoid of the significant other. Women are much more than attending to soft welfare issues and are equally competent, if not more, in some instances, to advise what needs to be done. This is one such instance and rather than await an invitation from men to join them at the decision-making table it would be better to pull up a chair and take a seat.
Women are the mainstay of society and the family structure. Women are the majority in society and carry the majority of the responsibility, sometimes burden, as main breadwinner and/or leading home economists. In the runaway cost of living, including the heartaches from the floods, the responsibility for ensuring the family is fed and basic well-being met fall on the woman.
It is the woman that manages the home finances and is expected to stretch the dollar. Said acknowledgment does not ignore the men that do likewise but articulates the customary division of labour/responsibilities between the two sexes. In the female single-headed or financed household this is more burdensome. All the international statistics show that women are mostly affected by the pandemic.
The Government of Guyana is not oblivious to the indicators (local and international) yet continues to fail miserably in showing it has a game plan, much less a programme to constructively respond to the twin crises. Moments like these, reasonable minds wonder whether the manifest leadership dysfunction is the result of previous socio-economic status and/or inability to be visionary. The meteoric rise of some leaders, from poverty or generations of poverty, to substantive wealth and status are daunting for them.
Some don’t know how to handle their new wealth and status, navigating the corridors of power like a deer caught in headlights. The newness or disaccustom-sie are still catching people by surprise, prancing around coughing up idle platitudes and inept soundbytes, and making a mess of things. Whilst the trappings of power have been thrusted on them the nimblest of intellect to steer this ship that has run aground they do not possess.
There is no vision. It is grievous to live through or witness what is happening. Atop the mountainous chaos and hopelessness sits those whose perception of vision is handing out one-off hampers, one-off COVID-19 $25, 000.00 relief, denying un-vaccinated members of the Guyana Defence Force hampers, barking across the aisle, and awaiting grants from overseas. They tout these as ‘achievements.’
Belatedly- probably due to criticism about weeks of insufficient actions- they reached out to the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency. The much touted One-Guyana policy is devoid of oneness and vision for all the people. This viewpoint borrows its title from Jimmy Cliff’s ‘Hard Road to Travel’ because right now it sure feels like that in Guyana.