Dear Editor,Do we still need to devote an entire day to women? Haven’t we already achieved enough? Women don’t just vote – we are heads of government; we don’t just participate in the workforce – we are titans of industry. We are leading political movements and “having it all”. Globally, we’ve never had so many opportunities available to us.And yet, gender equality is still elusive. Despite all our strides as a global community, we are still woefully lagging behind on equal pay, equal representation in decision-making seats, and equal responsibility in the home. Women suffer disproportionately from intimate partner violence, sexual harassment, and discriminatory labour practices. The majority of victims of human trafficking are women and girls. Women and girls make up 60 per cent of the global chronically hungry population. Seventy-five per cent of the world’s illiterate adults are women. And when unpaid work is counted alongside paid work, women, on average, work four more years than men during their lifetimes. At the same time, women are still more likely than men to live in poverty.International Women’s Day (IWD) is an opportunity to celebrate the economic, political and social achievements of women past and present all around the world. It is also an opportunity to look to future achievements and hold ourselves and our communities accountable to pressing for even greater progress.Feminist foreign policyI want to address the taboo “F” word – feminism. Too many people equate feminism with advocating for female superiority. Gender equality means just that – equality. Equality of rights, equality of access, equal pay for work of equal value.I am proud that my Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, says he is a feminist. When media questioned why he insisted that 50 per cent of his Cabinet be comprised of women, he replied, “Because it is 2015”.Last week, Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau, unveiled Canada’s first gender conscious budget, entitled “Equality + Growth, A Strong Middle Class.” It has undergone the most thorough gender-based analysis yet to be seen in a public budget in Canada because Minister Morneau understands that gender equality is not just about fairness; it’s our best chance at a prosperous future.This is a future we envision for everyone. Last year, our Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, Marie-Claude Bibeau, launched our Feminist International Assistance Policy (FIAP). FIAP is a first for Canada, placing gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls at the heart of our development efforts – in Canada as well as globally. FIAP focuses on six interlinked areas: gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, human dignity, peace and security, inclusive governance, environment and climate action, and growth that works for everyone. It is rooted in the conviction that the best way to reduce poverty and build a more inclusive, peaceful and prosperous world is to empower women and girls.#PressforProgressThe IWD theme for 2018 is #PressforProgress in honour of the growing global movement of advocacy and activism for gender equality. This isn’t just for the benefit of women. Studies have shown that the full and equal participation of women and girls in all aspects of social, economic and political life, the elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls, and women’s economic empowerment are all critical to peaceful, democratic, and economically prosperous societies.This is why I commend the efforts of the Government of Guyana, local civil society organisations and other key enablers in pushing for the protection and advancement of gender equality in Guyana. I fully agree with His Excellency, President David Granger that we can, we must and we will achieve gender equality. Every time the First Lady’s Office organises a vocational workshop for young teenage mothers, Guyana takes another step towards greater equality. When Guyana launched the Sexual Offences Court, Guyanese took a landmark stance against violence against women. The Social Protection Ministry’s entrepreneurship and micro-financing schemes are a boon to women’s economic empowerment, increasing their access to and control over their own livelihood.Although it will not happen overnight, we must continue to push for better standards, better policies, greater recognition and greater respect for women. We must press forward toward greater progress.I invite you to join us on March 10 to celebrate our collective achievements. We are organising a concert featuring Canadian Guyanese artist, Faith Amour, and an exhibition of some of us here in Guyana pushing for gender equality, including Government agencies, NGOs, and international organisations.Join us on March 10, 2018 at 15:00h–18:00h to #PressforProgress in the Promenade Gardens to celebrate International Women’s Day 2018.Sincerely,Lilian ChatterjeeHigh Commissioner ofCanada to Guyana
Dear Editor,How often as a child have I lustily bellowed “Born in the land of the mighty Roraima”; the song of Guyana’s Children before assembly, this being a staple of schooling in the ‘70s. I remark on this as I try to comprehend GHK Lall’s missive on the “possible” motives of the Government of Canada with regards to the travel advisory issued to Irfaan Ali prior to his proposed visit there for fundraising and information dissemination activities, I have come to realise that there is a marked difference in brain wiring of Guyanese born pre and post-Independence.It has become obvious that a ‘colonial’ mentality of looking for approval from ‘massa’ exists strongly in the psyche of those born in a time when our dear land was under the yoke of oppression. GHK and his contemporaries no doubt set great store by the honorific tea with the Queen of England, a seal of approval greatly sought and cherished thereafter. My sociology Professor Ken Danns often spoke of his irrational desire to be knighted and lamented and no longer being able to receive same because of our changed circumstance. Lall casts around for explanations of Canadian action framed by his limitations but oblivious to same. GHK Lall should stick to facts and seek same before venturing down the rabbit holes of his own warren.It is now obvious that the Granger cabal looked carefully at the possible future presidential candidates of the People’s Progressive Party and moved to have them disqualified from consideration by way of pending criminal charges. Both Anil Nandlall and Irfaan Ali were prime targets of SOCU, the agency of choice for political chicanery. Irfaan Ali was written to by the Canadian High Commissioner based on information in an article by a previously unknown online news outfit “Guyana Standard”, it also made mention of a hold on his application for a residence visa when no such application was made.Canada has a clear policy of deeming anyone with a criminal charge from entering the country, this was not a law made especially for Guyana’s Irfaan Ali as suggested by GHK Lall. A simple Google search, (which, I concede, may not be so simple for the aged) would have thrown up a plethora of results to guide in forming an opinion on whether this was a set policy or a sinister plot to interfere in Guyana’s internal affairs. I believe the Chairman of Guyana’s Gold Board owes the nation of Canada an apology; eagerly awaiting same.Editor, if I have transgressed and committed the offence of ‘ageism’ I beg forgiveness as I was taught that if one wrote with an aim to edify, one must first educate oneself. I take my leave as I began, by way of song “Onward, upward, may we ever go, day by day in strength and beauty grow, till at length we each of us will show, what Guyana’s sons and daughters can be”Respectfully,Robin Singh
Dear Editor,In Saturday’s edition of the Stabroek News, I observed an article that deeply troubled me to my core: “AG appeals CJ’s ruling on existing registrants.” I am by no means any legal expert, but please allow me to explain why, if the Attorney General’s appeal is successful, my democratic right would then be deeply violated.After Chief Justice Roxane George ruled, the AG claimed success; now he is attempting to partially appeal the ruling. He is challenging her declaration that existing registrants cannot be removed from the database. The AG is attempting to get a ruling that allows GECOM to scrap the database that had been in existence for over a decade and used it multiple elections (without a complaint from any political parties).From my understanding, he is trying to impose residency as a requirement to be registered. At the time of my registration, I was residing in Guyana. Anyone registering would have been residing, or physically present, in the country, as that is how one would go to GECOM and register. It seems as if the AG is also trying to impose this as a right to be on the database. So every time one exits Guyana, GECOM will delete them. In that case, GECOM should set up shop at the airport; when we leave, delete; and register us back when we land.The law itself doesn’t seem to support these claims. In Article 159 (qualification and disqualification for electors) of the Guyana Constitution, section 2 deals with how one qualifies, (a) states a citizen of Guyana and (c) “satisfies such other qualifications as may be prescribed by or under any law.” The AG is attempting to force the court to legislate residency into my right to vote.I would like to point out that in the Constitution of Guyana, there is a section (31) that speaks to the protection of citizens’ rights abroad. “It is the duty of the State to protect the just rights and interests of citizens’ resident abroad.” Isn’t my right to vote something worth protecting?The Chief Justice said: “The right to register to vote and the right to vote are sacrosanct and fundamental. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Guyana has acceded, establishes the right to vote as a matter of international human rights law, and provides that every citizen has a right to vote.”ICCPR was adopted and opened for signature, ratification, and accession by the General Assembly (resolution 2200A(XXI)) on December 16th, 1966. The United Nations Declaration of Human Rights has the right to vote under Article 25.I have combed through the Constitution of Guyana, the Peoples Representation Act, and the National Registration Act, and editor, I am still trying to see how the Attorney General can rationally think to delete the database is in our law books.I hope the Appellate Court protects my right to vote and uphold the Chief Justice’s ruling.Respectfully,Nutana Singh
The University of Guyana’s class of 2014-2016 Social Work diploma students was honoured for their role to eradicate social ills in the society. They received an award at the first ever Guyana Social Work Practitioners and Educators Conference, held Thursday and Friday at the Arthur Chung Convention Centre at Liliendaal, Georgetown.Demonstrating Leadership: From left, Shelisa Camacho-Khan, Kimberly Conway, Shanice Edwards, Jonmal Johnson, Barbara Thomas-Holder (Lecturer), Nickesha BacchusThe social work students were awarded for “demonstrating leadership in advocating for the eradication of social ills within the Guyanese society.”According to the media release, the award followed a walkathon and rally against domestic violence held on June 25. The walkathon’s PRO Anil Persaud had explained that the event was timely, given the prevalence of domestic violence throughout the country.“Some of us may not know much about the issue and it’s complexities but what we all do know is that domestic violence is unacceptable and it must end if we are to see the brighter future everyone dreams of,” he had noted.The walkathon was held under the theme, “Stop Domestic Violence: Preserve the family and Humanity.” And the initiative was executed in collaboration with the Social Protection Ministry and included the support of NAMILCO (National Milling Company), St Joseph Mercy Hospital and the Civil Defence Commission.
Cocaine in deodorantThe Jamaican busted with cocaine concealed in a shipment of deodorant bottles was Monday sentenced to three years in prison.Easton Stapleton, 54, was also fined $1.4 million, the street value of the drugs, when he appeared before Magistrate Leron Daly at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts.Stapleton was intercepted after he was observed by a Custom Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU) officer to be acting suspicious.According to CANU prosecutor Kunyo Thompson, on the day in questioned the defendant entered the Guyana Post Office with the intention of posting a package.He enquired whether the parcel would have to be examined by CANU and upon learning that it must, he left with the package.The officer who noticed his actions, followed and intercepted him in the vicinity of Fogarty’s Store.A search was conducted on the parcel and it was then that a whitish substance was found in the roll-on deodorant balls and paper markers.He was told of the offence, arrested and charged.
A five-member Guyanese delegation is participating in the first Global Workshop on Oil Spill Response Planning, taking place in New Orleans, Louisiana, United States of America.The workshop was built on dialogues from the October 2015 International Regulators Forum in Washington, DC, and is being hosted by the Energy Governance and Capacity Initiative (EGCI), a US Department of Sate-led interagency effort that provides a range of technical and capacity building support to the governments of select countries to help them institute the capacity to manage their oil and gas sector resources responsibly.The team comprises persons from the Ministry of Natural Resources, Guyana Geology and Mines Commission, Environmental Protection Agency, and Ministry of Public Infrastructure Maritime Administration Department (MARAD).Officials say the workshop is both valuable and timely, since it will assist Guyana in gaining the expertise needed in advancing efforts to develop a robust framework for its emerging oil and gas sector.Guyana’s participation in the global workshop will allow the country the opportunity to tap into the US Government’s considerable expertise and capabilities in oil spill response planning in order to provide assistance that is tailored to the specific needs of Guyana.The team will discuss commonalities and differences in disaster preparedness, oil spill response planning and environmental monitoring, assessment and reporting, especially as it affects offshore production and spillage among the United States and the participating EGCI countries.Participants will also be able to network and explore opportunities for long-term working relationships with sector experts.