The Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs (MoIPA) in collaboration with UNICEF Guyana and other partners have embarked on a Study on Indigenous Women and Children across Guyana.
The Study was launched Friday last at the Santa Rosa Secondary School in the Moruca Sub-District, Region 1, with Vice President and Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs Sydney Allicock, Minister within the Ministry Valerie Garrido-Lowe, Permanent Secretary Alfred King, UNICEF Representative Sylvie Fouet a steering committee which includes Donna McKinnon from the University of Guyana and International Researcher Dr. Marcio Caravalho attending.
Dr. Marcio Caravalho in giving an overview of the study said this initiative is critical since it geared at bridging the gap as it relates to indigenous women and children and giving them an equal opportunity to a better quality of life.
He said it seeks to assess cultural, social, economic and other related vulnerabilities and deprivations faced by women and children along with prevailing barriers and bottlenecks that impede the realization of such rights.
Vice President and Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs Sydney Allicock alluded to the fact that such an initiative is imperative since it will foster and promote unity which is the way of life of the indigenous peoples.
The Minister said he sees this exercise as a way of strengthening village councils and communities as they plan for economic development and the decision to have such an activity launched in Moruca is the right step towards empowering the indigenous peoples.
Minister Allicock said “this plan that we have is to allow us to have the information needed to better manage and to ensure economic development in our communities we have the talent, we have the capacity what we need is the opportunity and now is a good time to begin that process”.
Echoing similar sentiments, Minister within the Ministry Valerie Garrido-Lowe who has direct responsibility for indigenous women and children affairs said it is the government’s role and responsibility to ensure the resilience of children, families and communities are strengthened.
“We sat down and we were discussing this study and we said this would be a good thing for our indigenous women and children country wide because as Indigenous people our experiences are different from persons living on the coastland, different because of our cultures our traditions that through the years that we would have been here we have managed to remain here” the Minister noted.
Meanwhile, a Situation Analysis executed and published by UNICEF last year detailed a number of inequalities that influenced the realization of the rights for children and women here. It pointed out that that among different populations that live in the country, health, education and socio-economic indicators for the Indigenous group are among the worst off for most of the topics taken into consideration.
UNICEF Representative Sylvie Fouet said “the youngest child and the women represent an investment to Guyana and you have a voice and you should be allowed to use that voice more forcefully.”
The report according to Ms. Fouet also indicated that only 77% of the Indigenous women have at least 4 prenatal care visits, 34% of births happen at home in comparison to 6% of the country’s average; 54% of children between 24 and 45 months are fully vaccinated, compared to 82% of children in urban areas and only 40% of children between 3 and 5 years are formally enrolled in an early childhood education programme, in comparison to 61% at national level, and 68% in urban areas.
In welcoming this initiative Toshao of Santa Rosa Sherwin Abrahams has assured that Region 1will work in unison to ensure the program delivers on its objectives.
The study has already commenced in several villages across the ten administrative regions and the Ministry is expected to receive a report by the end of June.
Since ascension to office in 2015, the David Granger led coalition government through the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs has pumped millions of dollars into improving the lives of our nation’s first peoples, particularly the indigenous women through sustainable innovative projects.
During this period a number of women’s groups were established nationwide while existing groups were revamped in order to meet the needs of the women and by extension their families.
As was evident at Friday’s launch, the women of Moruca continue to lead by example. This took the form of several captivating cultural pieces which is a demonstration of the immense talent that exists in the hinterland and in this particular area Region 1.