Guyana women way ahead of others elsewhere
December 16, 1999
FORMER President Janet Jagan has said Guyana is still way ahead of some developed countries which do a lot of talking but seldom act on certain issues.
She noted that Third World countries even have more women in their parliaments than those highly developed nations.
"While we have a long way to go, a lot of those who have stronger (and) better economic positions have a longer way to go," Mrs Jagan maintained.
She was speaking at a panel discussion on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in Hotel Tower last week.
"(Some) countries have refused to sign some of the conventions, particularly the Convention on the Rights of the Child," Mrs Jagan stated.
She declared it is a "disgrace" that some of the developed nations are unable to become signatories to such pacts.
Mrs Jagan recalled being in the Women's Progressive and Economic Organisation at its 1946 formation, when women were recognising the need to fight for rights and protect their status.
It was during that period, too, that the United Nations (UN) Commission on the Status of Women was established and the grouping here was set up with an aim of enforcing the rights of women in many areas of life.
"Not only were we speaking of the equality of women (and) efforts to prevent discrimination against women, but we were also looking at the human factors," Mrs Jagan remembered.
She observed that the question of gender looms as a big issue in the ongoing reformation of the Guyana Constitution.
But, Mrs Jagan said, only carefully planned programmes will ensure that Guyana moves forward and, hopefully, bring about an end to all sorts of discrimination.
Minister of Human Services and Social Security, Mrs Indra Chandarpal and the Chief Justice, Ms Desiree Bernard were the other panelists.
Chandarpal said the Government is committed to doing whatever it takes to enhance the status of Guyanese women.
She reported that the first CEDAW report submitted to the UN Committee in 1993 as well as the second showed there were significant reforms and legislation to further the thrust.
Chandarpal said the measures included laws like the Equal Rights Act, Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, Domestic Violence Act and Prevention of Discrimination Act.
She said her Ministry was given the mandate to look at all aspects of work related to women and, in collaboration with the wider society, move to formulate a national plan of action for women.
Policies, mechanisms, legislation and institutions are being looked at to advance the cause, Chandarpal assured.
"When we look at the principles of CEDAW, we have to ensure that we do not only look at those legal aspects. It has to be a combination of legal aspects and how this translates into the lives of ordinary women," Minister Chandarpal pointed out.
She said CEDAW guarantees that issues involving women, who are still the major object of discrimination, are addressed through amendments to its articles and appropriate statutes.
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