Improved social security for all Guyanese

A GIS feature by Pamela Evans
Guyana Chronicle
January 25, 2000

GLOBALLY, attention is increasingly being focussed on social security and welfare issues. The United Nations and its various agencies, social partners and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have been increasingly devoting resources to issues such as the rights of the child, women and the elderly. Discrimination against women has also been a focal point over the last three decades.

Much has been achieved but a tremendous backlog of problems pertaining to child abuse, domestic violence, child labour, discrimination against women, etc, has to be overcome. The struggle against these injustices will have to be a relentless, but tactful one, because of the numerable difficulties that exist due to the myriad of cultural peculiarities and complexities.

Unfortunately, these injustices are much more pronounced in the developing countries, where the cultural complexities in many instances have a negative impact on socioeconomic development. But, importantly, the problems of social insecurity have been universally recognised and the battle to resolve them is gaining momentum.

Here in Guyana, there has been a great emphasis by the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security in collaboration with NGOs to address the problems. However, no one will dispute that we have a long way to go.

The improvements of the social life and welfare of Guyanese surge upwards as the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security strives to achieve its programmes, projects and goals.

The social institution still in its infancy stage, approaching two years now (it was established April 1st 1998) is continuously seeking to pursue a higher standard of welfare for the nation. The mission statement of the Ministry spells out its long-term objective clearly "To contribute to social development of the Guyanese society by preparing and executing appropriate policies and programmes, providing social welfare for all Guyanese."

The Human Services and Social Security Ministry has a pivotal role to play in national development. With each passing day new challenges arise. This Government entity is charged with the responsibility of responding to virtually every sphere of human well being.

The Ministry occupies itself with all the emotions and pathos of human existence. It is a Ministry that primarily focuses on the application of social work intervention methods in its entirety in order to maintain balance in human behaviour and endeavour. Senior citizens and Social Security Division, Probation Services, Children Services, Adoption Board and Women's Affairs are just some of the departments/sections that constitute the wider framework of the Ministry.

The Ministry established the Guyana Women's Leadership Institute (GWLI) at Cove and John, East Coast Demerara which is being used to conduct training programmes for women.

The Institute, which was a brainchild of the Minister of Human Services and Social Security, Indra Chandarpal, made significant strides in 1998 and became a focal point for the uplift of rural women in many fields related to base knowledge in agriculture, cookery, sewing, public speaking, community development, entering public life and other important topics. The objective of these programmes is to empower rural women so that they may be able to take up their rightful places in society.

The Women's Affairs Bureau was formed to work towards the removal of all discrimination against women and to promote the development of women's full potential and to ensure their integration in the national development of the country.

The Bureau's main objectives are to contribute to the formulation of policy in relation to the advancement of women in Guyana, to provide counselling and advice services for women, and to provide administrative, technical and financial assistance to non-governmental women's organisations in the planning and implementation of programmes.

In 1998, the Bureau completed the majority of its work programme and met most of its target.

An eight-member Co-operatives Division was set up to guide, support, monitor and regulate Co-operative Development in the ten administrative Regions of Guyana. The division's objective is to guide the cooperative movement to become truly autonomous and self-reliant and to monitor and regulate the activities of cooperatives and friendly societies in accordance with their status.

The work of the Cooperative Division is to inquire and investigate into the constitution and financial conditions of societies, to review technical advice and guidance to the regions as may be required from time to time, to provide for staff training and development.

The Division has also to work with and encourage the apex body and other secondary bodies to assume responsibility for the cooperative movement and to process registration and cancellation in accordance with the Cooperative Societies Act and Friendly Societies.

The Social Security and Senior Citizens Welfare has geared itself to provide psychological, social, financial and other material assistance as well as regulatory services affecting senior citizens, the infirm and the destitute, to improve their status and complement their abilities to cope with the stress of living.

The Senior Citizens Welfare department accomplished most of its work for 1998 and carried several special programmes which included receiving and distributing meal hampers to the elderly and indigent. A Senior Citizens Policy Development Committee was also established.

Also in late 1998, the notion of establishing a secretariat for safeguarding and promoting the rights of the child was formulated. This brilliant vision in its embryonic stage was carried forward on the Ministry's agenda in 1999.

A © page from:
Guyana: Land of Six Peoples