Manifestos emanating from political parties contesting the upcoming National Elections would be scrutinised by the Women and Gender Equality Commission to ascertain the policies and programmes they outline to empower Guyanese women.
It was emphasised that this would be done objectively, despite the membership of the Commission being of different backgrounds.
This disclosure was made yesterday at a press conference held by the Commission to update the media on the body’s work after one year in operation.
According to Chairperson of the Commission, Indra Chandarpal, the first six months of the body’s establishment was spent building trust among members so when issues are addressed they are done in the interest of women and the commission, and not political parties.
She stressed that specific interest would be placed on the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C), People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR), Alliance For Change (AFC) and Guyana Action Party (GAP), since members representing those parties sat before the Commission on separate occasions and discussed questions that were given to them before hand.
It was noted that the parties have committed to improve where necessary and assured the body that special emphasis would be placed on prioritising women’s issues.
In Guyana’s Parliament, the highest law-making body of the land, women’s participation is as follows: AFC has 40 percent, the main opposition, PNCR (50 percent) and the ruling party, PPP/C, 31 percent.
The percentage of women’s membership in the PPP/C was slightly higher but after the death of Dr. Desrey Fox (Minister within the Ministry of Education) that seat was filled by a male Member of Parliament.
Chandarpal explained that from the questions asked it was derived that only the two longstanding political parties, the PPP/C and PNCR, have a women’s section. She opined that this may have been as a result of the juncture at which they were developed.
In relation to the question, “Will your Party support a move to increase the required percentage of women on Party Elections Lists for the current upcoming Elections?” she stated that GAP indicated that members should be placed based on competency and not gender.
The Commission believes that Guyanese women are competent in taking up leadership roles and have done well in the area of education as data from the University of Guyana and Cyril Potter College of Education would show.
However, all the political parties that participated do intend to see new laws or amendments to existing laws on gender equality and development in Guyana.
She noted that women play the most important role in political parties, adding that they are foot soldiers but sometimes are not fully represented.
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