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One woman is murdered every fortnight, on average, in this country. Women, increasingly, are victims of violence with about one out of every two women between ages 15 and 60 abused by their partners, exceeding the global average. Reports of gender violence have surged yearly from 1, 499 in 2019, to 1,672 in 2020 and to 1,896 in 2021.
Former President David Granger called for an end to this carnage and for the elimination of obstacles to women’s equality and safety. Speaking during his weekly programme − The Public Interest − Mr. Granger said that, although women enjoyed incremental improvements in legal equality since the presentation of the State Paper on the Equality of Women to the National Assembly in January 1976, practical inequality persists.
Acknowledging that despite the explicit guarantee of equality by the Constitution which states “Every woman is entitled to equal rights and status with men in all spheres of political, economic and social life,” women still face cultural, economic, health and social obstacles. “They suffer disproportionately from domestic abuse, economic disparities, and social discrimination…which harm the family and society,” the Former President said.
Mr. Granger recalled that, although women used to be seen largely in child-bearing and house-keeping roles, the entire nation is increasingly reliant on the services of women who constitute the majority of civil servants, nurses and teachers and, increasingly, in the Legislative, Executive and Judicial branches (including Chancellor, Chief Justice and Chief Magistrate) and the University of Guyana.
Asserting that national unity would be impossible if over half of the population was treated unequally, Mr. Granger proposed a five-point approach for − investing in enterprises which empower and employ women; intensive implementation of inclusionary policies to involve women equally in all areas of decision-making; increasing institutional capacity and capability to implement projects which improve women’s welfare; mainstreaming information about gender equality into all national life and initiating measures to eradicate social attitudes that tolerate discrimination against women and girl children.
The former President emphasized that women’s equality is an entitlement, not an endowment. ‘National unity’ − in any way, shape or form − will be unattainable without ensuring genuine gender equality. 󠄀