Bolstered women's input in decision making recommended

Stabroek News
July 17, 1999

A recommendation that parliament should make every effort to include women in the decision-making process of the country so that their numbers could be reflected in proportion to their strength in the population was agreed by the Constitutional Reform Commission (CRC).

In line with this recommendation it has also been agreed that the Commission should urge the National Assembly to enshrine in the Constitution a general principle which encourages women's participation in public decision-making so that national decisions, which affect women significantly, can also be informed by them.

These were some of the principles the CRC agreed to recommend for inclusion in the constitution when they discussed the issue of women's rights and gender equality.

The principles were proposed by a sub-committee of the Commission which was tasked with formulating recommendations for the consideration of the commission. The sub-committee members were Anande Trotman, Haslyn Parris, Bernard De Santos, Miles Fitzpatrick and Vidyanand Persaud.

Trotman, who led the discussions on the recommendations had urged that the Commission propose to Parliament that it should take measures designed to increase women's participation in the various processes and fora of decision-making in society to a level commensurate with the proportion that women form of the society.

The Commission was not persuaded that specific percentages should be set as targets but felt that as more women are exposed to public life, the greater would be their participation.

Among the other principles which the Commission adopted and is to recommend to parliament, are that the provisions for women's equality contained in Article 29 should be retained but be made justiciable, fundamental or human rights.

Trotman said that the principles should be reformulated to ensure that the provisions enshrine women's rights to full and equal protection, benefit and treatment before the law.

Further, she urged that there should be principles to ensure that women are not discriminated against on the grounds of their sex, and that legislation should address societal practices which are discriminatory to women, including sexual abuse, harassment, violence, and not giving women and men equal pay for work of equal value.

The Commission also agreed to recommend that the language of the Constitution must be gender neutral.

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Guyana: Land of Six Peoples