– Guyana is proud gender equality and development record- Webster
As countries strive to achieve the United Nation’s Third Millennium Development Goal, which promotes
gender equality and empowerment of women, Minister of Human Services and Social Security Jennifer Webster said that Guyana is proud of its record on the subject.
The Minister stated that in today’s globalized world, women’s role in a modern society has evolved with them playing significant roles within the family and the world of work.
Webster made the remarks at the launching of the Guyana Women Miners Association, the first of its kind which is created to represent the rights of women in the mining sector.
The function was held on Thursday at Sea Breeze Hotel, Kitty.
The organization seeks to promote the rights of women miners and other females earning a living in mining districts or hinterland communities.
Webster commended the members for their bold step since their presence as an institution serves a particular niche population of women, who are working in a growing industry.
She pointed to the current parliamentary representation ratio of the Tenth Parliament which she said comprises 21 women of the 65 parliamentarians, a significant increase from a mere 12 females in 1992.
There are five female Ministers of Government and one female Presidential Advisor.
She added there are also a number of women who hold key executive positions in Government, the Judiciary and in the mining sector, which is rapidly expanding.
“Our Government has long recognized to treat gender issues in a fair and balanced manner, and over the years has sought to strengthen national response. The Ministry has implemented several initiatives that target vulnerable groups such as single parents, the hopeless, the elderly, indigenous people and of course our children,” she stated.
Through Government’s Women of Worth programme, hundreds of single parents who would not have qualified for loans from commercial banks, received loans from Guyana Bank of Trade Industry and Commerce to expand existing businesses and or establish new ones.
She added that the constitutional Women and Gender Equality Commission was recently established to further promote issues relating to the enhancement of the status of women, girls and gender issues.
Webster emphasized there are many women gainfully employed in the mining sector but some of them are faced with many challenges such as physical and verbal abuses.
She urged the association to define its focus and target groups within the context of the contribution to the sector. The body was cautioned not to over-extend their reach or attempt to duplicate efforts in areas that already have organizations established to focus on such issues as Indigenous women and children.
She also suggested that the group establishes collaborative approaches with related organizations in order to maximize their impact and efforts in addressing the needs of women in the mining sector. A multi-stakeholder approach will be a key strategy to the organization’s success, she advised.
Webster stated, “The quarrying and mining industry encompasses the extraction and processing of gold, diamond, bauxite, sand and stone. From 1980 to 2010, the contribution of mining and quarrying to our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in current terms range from 10 percent to 22 percent, except in the years 1981 to 1986 where the industry endured severe setbacks and its contributions fell to below 10 percent.”
She stressed that gold’s contribution alone in 2010 was 12.5 percent of Guyana’s total GDP and 78 percent of the mining and quarrying GDP contribution. In the last decade, mining and quarrying contribution to the GDP has been stable and has grown. Since the 1990s gold has overtaken bauxite as the highest contributor of value to the mining and quarrying industry and remains this way to date due to climbing gold prices.
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