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Attorney General (AG) and Legal Affairs Minister, Anil Nandlall, SC, addressing the 145th Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Assembly, warned that with the absence of gender equity and gender sensitive parliaments “comes dictatorship, stagnation, violence and anarchy.” The AG was addressing this year’s IPU Assembly which is being held in Rwanda and hosted under the theme “Gender Equality and Gender Sensitive Parliaments as drivers for a more resilient and peaceful world.”
According to the minister, inequality in any form, including gender inequality, is the very antithesis of justice, as he warned “without justice, there can be peace nowhere.”
“The theme of this conference therefore, requires no underscoring on my part. It sells itself,” he said, adding that although gender equality is entrenched in the Charter of the United Nations, and forms part of the fundamental guarantees of governing instruments of similar organisations across the globe “the reality paints a starkly different picture, in particular, as it relates to the membership of Parliaments around the world”.
In Guyana, of the 33-member parliamentarians in the Government benches there are only 11 women. The eleven is consistent with the constitutional requirement of a minimum of one-third of women on the List of Representatives. Of the 20 ministers in Government there are only about eight women.
In Guyana the male to female ratio is equal. According to the United Nations World Population Prospect, the percentage of the female population is 49.67 % compared to 50.33 % for male.
In spite of the government’s statistical reality, the minister told the session the government is interested in equality and equal treatment in all its facets and across every sector of society.
“Concomitantly, we eschew and strike down the scourge of discrimination whenever it raises its ugly head in any form or fashion. Naturally therefore, we embrace the thematic objective of this conference and we pledge our unwavering support to the IPU Assembly as it strives to prosecute this noble ideal.”
Pointing fingers at other countries, the minister said he noted for example, only three in 193 countries surveyed, have a 50 per cent or more female membership in their Parliaments and 143 countries have below 30 per cent of female membership, and still yet, several countries have no women representation in their parliaments.
“These are staggering statistics in a world where the female gender outnumbers the male. Women are the source of life and the reason for our existence. We are all nurtured and groomed by women. It is said that the housewife of the average worker, in a world of rising cost of living but stagnant wages, is the world’s greatest economist. Women have repeatedly shown in almost every area of human endeavour that they are equal to men.”
“There is simply no rational basis to resist greater gender balance in Parliaments. To do so, we are not only being unfair to women, but we are short-changing ourselves and undermining human progress as a whole,” advised the minister.
“So, colleagues, we have much more work to do. A good start is to push for legislation to be implemented in member states that would engender greater gender parity in their Parliaments, while we continue to canvass for the removal of all institutional and systemic structures, legislation, policies and programmes which perpetuate gender inequality across the States’ apparatus.”