Survey finds--
Guyanese women deem local politics too ‘confrontational’

Guyana Chronicle
May 21, 2003

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A SURVEY among Guyanese women has found that they consider politics in Guyana too confrontational. They would only think of becoming more involved when there is a change from this style of politics.

Ms Roxanne Myers, Assistant Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Guyana (UG), made this disclosure at a press briefing last Monday at Cara Inn, Pere Street, Kitty.

According to Myers, the recently concluded survey conducted by a team of UG students under her supervision, interviewed 446 women from the ten administrative Regions on the participation of women in politics.

While two-thirds of the women interviewed have been involved in political campaigns, that figure has not been reflected in the number of women candidates in elections in Guyana, Ms. Myers said.

She added that in election campaigns, women were more likely to be in fundraising activities than any other activity.

“Work and family responsibilities left them little time to get involved, although 69 per cent felt that women could change the political bottom line. Most women believed that they voted for the party that had the best programme for developing Guyana, although the most frequently cited reason in Region Four was that they voted for the least of all evils. In some instances, they just didn’t vote, Yet three-quarters of the women told interviewers that they were planning to vote in the next local government elections,” Ms. Myers pointed out.

The majority of respondents had some organisational experience, but less than one-fifth reported any advocacy training, the survey found, adding that women equated advocacy campaigns with demonstrations and protests, and viewed them negatively.

However, the survey found that the vast majority of respondents, if given a chance to participate in politics, would make a greater impact as Parliamentarians, particularly where they worked across party lines on issues of importance to women. More would get involved in politics if they were in a better financial position, not having family responsibilities and if there is a change in the way politics is conducted in Guyana.

Programme Officer of the National Democratic Institute (NDI) Ms Chantelle Smith informed the media that the data gathered from the survey will be used to conduct a training programme to enhance the capacity of women to participate in politics.

The programme gets underway on May 27 at Le Meridien, Pegasus under the theme: “Fifty/Fifty: Increasing Women’s Political Participation in the Caribbean”. The event it is expected to attract leading women personalities from the Caribbean and further afield.

The main purposes of the survey were to generate baseline data on Guyanese women with respect to advocacy, networking, and their relationship to the media, and to report on the status of women in political life in Guyana.

The project was funded through a grant from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). (Chamanlall Naipaul)

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