Laws on violence against women must be implemented
-- Manickchand
Guyana Chronicle
January 25, 2007

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MINISTER of Human Services and Social Security, Ms. Priya Manickchand says Guyana needs to focus on implementing decisions made with regards to women’s issues.

She said Monday that although Guyana can be proud of legislation developed to combat violence against women and other problems, measures need to be put in place to ensure results, and enough effort has not been made to ensure that people are aware of issues which affect women.

She made the point at the launching of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) 2007 ‘State of the World’s Children’ report here.

The report, which focuses on creating gender equality by empowering women, is themed ‘Women and Children – the Double Dividend of Gender Equality.’

Manickchand told the gathering at the Hotel Tower in Georgetown “we have to review whether we have been actively implementing the act we’ve passed.”

The UNICEF report focuses on areas where women need equal rights to shape their lives in the household, workplace and political sphere.

It also includes recommendations on education, financing, legislation, legislative quotas, women empowering women, engaging men and boys and improving research and data on the situation of women and girls for maximising gender equality.

UNICEF Representative in Guyana, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago, Mr. Johannes Wedenig said a change in any of those realms influences women’s equality in the others and has a profound and positive impact on children’s well-being and development.

Wedenig pointed out that regional averages in relation to survival, health and nutrition in early childhood are broadly encouraging.

“Among developing countries, Latin America and the Caribbean has the lowest aggregate rates of under-five mortality, moderate rates of wasting and low birth weight and among the highest levels of immunisation and skilled attendants at delivery.

“However, there are sharp differences between countries and within them,” he said.

He said Latin America and the Caribbean present the greatest difference between rich and poor with children living in the poorest households almost four times more likely to be underweight than those from the richest households, compared with a two to one global poor to rich ratio.

Wedenig said despite the fact that boys’ secondary school attendance rates are significantly lower than girls, missing out on a secondary education appears to have a more severe impact on girls’ future earning potential.

He suggested that Guyana embark on a sustained campaign to eliminate all forms of violence under which children suffer in order to protect the nation’s future.

Wedenig said UNICEF has been engaging the government and other stakeholders in addressing issues related to gender inequality.

“With our concerted efforts, we can achieve true progress and ultimately produce a double dividend of advancing the rights of both women and children,” he posited.

The report said studies have shown that, although they are first to recognise and seek treatment for children’s illnesses, many women are denied a say in the most basic decisions on family health, including if a child should see a doctor.