CAFRA publication aims to correct gender bias

by Stacey Davidson
Guyana Chronicle
March 12, 2000

A PUBLICATION highlighting the contribution of women, was launched Thursday evening at Hotel Tower, by Caribbean Association For Feminist Research And Action (CAFRA), Guyana Chapter and The Canada Fund For Local Initiatives (CFLI).

`An Introductory Reader For Women's Studies in Guyana - A CAFRA Guyana Chapter Reader', was compiled and edited by Ms Hazel Woolford. The publication was funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), to the tune of $G678,600, is a step forward in correcting the gender bias that exists in most historical accounts of Guyana's development.

Giving an overview of the text, Ms. Woolford said most of the articles and monographs were written by Guyaneses women. They include `History of the Guide Movement' by Ms Carmen Jarvis; `The Life History of Janet Jagan' by Ms Bonita Singh; `African Guyanese Female Politicians' and `Women in Riots' by Woolford; `A History of Home Economics in Guyana'; a script taken from `A Blaze of Fire ' by Dr. Neisha Hannif.

According to Ms. Wooolford the book captures the pre-colonial period through to present day situations.

She said she was prompted to publish the book because of a shortage of these type of texts at the University of Guyana (UG) and in secondary schools.

The book would also be useful to women's groups and organisations throughout the country, and anyone involved in women's studies and issues. It would serve as an invaluable source of information on the pivotal role of women in the development of this country.

Funds from book sales will go towards CAFRA projects in Guyana.

Mr. Kamoji Wachiira, CIDA executive, in his feature address, noted that the publication is a very useful one geared to improve the education of University and secondary school students on the history of Guyanese women.

"It's a very impressive book," Wachiira said. He also suggested that "the male side of history" be considered for publication.

He noted that assistance for the publication of the book is part of CIDA's implementation programme from the Gender Equity Fund, (GEF) to improve the awareness of women's issues.

GEF, another CIDA sponsored project, has just completed three years of funding gender inititatives in Guyana.

Wachiira further suggested that the focus of the text be broadened, and distributed in the rural areas to all types of women, and should be broadcast on radio and television.

Minister of Human Services and Social Security, Ms. Indra Chandarpal who was appointed the first CAFRA National Representative, from 1981 to 1984, commended the efforts of the local CAFRA members, and noted that CAFRA has come a long way.

She noted though that there is still a lot of work to be done to deal with women's issues.

"We need to take CAFRA to women out there," she stated.

CAFRA's Regional Representatitve, Surinamese Maggie Schmeits, in her remarks, reported on the successful projects on domestic violence held in her country.

She said as a result, there has been heightened public awareness on domestic violence and women's issues. Steps to curb domestic violence there are strongly supported by the Police Force, she said.

Such programmes are funded by Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

Schmeits said the goal of CAFRTA in her country is to train 200 persons on women's issues.

A similar training programme is to be held in April, this year in Trinidad and Tobago.

CAFRA's activities for this year are: to provide counselling services for victims of violent relationships and perpetrators of these crimes; women rights campaigns; paralegal training for women, and public forums on women's health and domestic violence.