– to help advance protection of vulnerable women and children
Guyana is currently armed with information that will give it a better understanding of the issues that children and women are faced with thereby making it poised to put intervening measures in place.
This notion was amplified yesterday when the United Nations Children Fund Representative, Ms Marianne Flach ceremoniously handed over a Situation Analysis (SitAn) of Children and Women document to the Ministry of Social Protection.
The analysis is perhaps one of the most significant tasks undertaken and completed by the UNICEF Representative during her tenure which will shortly come to an end.
Speaking at a forum convened at the Peter Rose and Anira Streets, Queenstown, Georgetown Herdmanston Lodge, Flach said, “Today is bittersweet for me as this is one of my last official functions before I conclude my tour of duty here in Guyana.”
Even as she expressed satisfaction with the completion and handing over of the analysis, Flach commended the Ministry of Social Protection for its excellent partnership throughout the ‘SitAn’ process.
“This Situation Analysis gives us a better understanding of the issues that children are facing in all 10 Regions of Guyana right now, so that we can ensure that we plan and budget effectively to make their lives better,” said Flach.
She explained that the analysis will be extremely important in informing the UNICEF Guyana Country Programme during the course of 2017-2021. The Country Programme has three priority areas: Safety and justice, Life-long learning and Social inclusion and child rights monitoring.
Over the next five years, Flach said that UNICEF will continue its partnership with Government to support National Strategic Plans and Programmes, with emphasis on equity, and on reaching the most vulnerable children and their families.
Based on data gathered during the most recent round of Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) 2014, the SitAn highlights different groups of vulnerable children and women, and has helped place emphasis on critical areas within the local Country Programme, according to Flach.
Flach also disclosed yesterday that “Climate Change is also mainstreamed in our new country programme, with emphasis on Climate Change Education, and addressing issues such as the availability of clean water, and mitigating health risks, especially those posed by infectious vector borne diseases such as Dengue and newer threats such as Chikungunya and Zika, which have serious implications for pregnant women and their babies.”
Guyana has already started to take advantage of the ‘Sit An’, according to Social Protection Minister, Volda Lawrence.
Minister Lawrence, addressing the forum, said that the need for the information in the ‘Sit An’ document to be shared, disseminated and used by all stakeholders, in collaboration with each sector to stamp out the ills that are rife in society.
The Minister revealed, yesterday, that she is advocating for a multi-sectoral approach as the way forward. Minister Lawrence, however, observed yesterday that in the document there are several factors that militate against resolving the social woes that beset children and women. And she disclosed that the prime enemy is poverty which is widespread in rural communities and in the hinterland.
Other challenges include “the bottlenecks regarding legislation related to children and the absence of relevant policies and programmes among others to combat the battles that our vulnerable groups face,” asserted the Minister.
And according to her, the Ministry of Social Protection has already earmarked the areas of focus for 2017. She pointed out that “It is our intention to intensify our efforts in tackling the issues of domestic violence, child abuse, teenage pregnancy, child labour and juvenile rehabilitation,” adding “this appears as a looming, daunting task, but therein are issues that overlap as well as other sectors that are involved.”
She however noted, “What is comforting is that we have the information documented for us; all we need is to look at the indicators, examine the triggers and the findings and together plan and strategise ways of protecting our human resource. We need to re-examine our family structure and values, we have to reinforce our training and knowledge base, our curriculum and look at alternative ways of dealing with our children who are in conflict with the law.”
In essence, as the ‘Sit An’ document underscores the need to take into account the social norms, the social and cultural practices as according to Minister Lawrence “therein are factors that influence violence against children and women.”
The Minister expressed appreciation to UNICEF for the compilation of this comprehensive document. “You have provided the Government of Guyana and other attendant agencies involved in the welfare of children and women’s issues with the relevant statistical data to embrace the prevailing social issues. I want to assure you that this document will be circulated and used for eliminating the violation of our children’s and women’s rights,” said Minister Lawrence.
She noted that Guyana’s Sustainable Development Goals call for the empowerment of children and women and Government will invest its efforts and resources to engage in capacity building for the prevention of violence and support for vulnerable children and women.
Yesterday’s forum was graced by First Lady, Mrs Sandra Granger, who lauded the work of UNCEF in helping to support Guyana’s effort to protect its vulnerable women and children. A number of school children decked in their uniforms also attended the auspicious forum.
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