Of the 18,000-plus house lots allocated to Guyanese since the PPP/C Administration took office in 2020, some 8000 were solely distributed to women. This was revealed by the Minister within the Housing and Water Ministry, Susan Rodrigues, at the Third Annual Founders’ Dinner of the Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry Guyana (WCCIG) on Saturday evening at Pegasus Hotel.
Rodrigues made a statement during her keynote address, highlighting that in just two years the Government has made significant advances in creating gender parity in Guyana.
Referencing the 2022 Global Gender Gap Report by the World Economic Forum, the Minister stated that Guyana ranked 35th out of 146 countries on gender parity. This, she noted, is 18 levels higher compared to Guyana’s 53rd position in 2021 and was accomplished in just one year of governance.
“When you see women achieving all of the things they are achieving, it’s because we have the right policies and the right programmes. These things don’t happen by accident,” said Rodrigues.
She added that, “when crafting a policy, you have to think about how this benefits everyone but more so you have to put an emphasis on vulnerable groups and women fall into that category, people with disabilities and young people.”
In terms of Economic Participation and Opportunity, Guyana is currently 53rd, compared to 105th in 2021. As women take up more parliamentary positions, the country earned the 37th place in the world for such representation, thereby surpassing Jamaica, Barbados and the United Kingdom. Moreover, Guyana has also achieved equal rights for justice, reproductive autonomy, the rights to divorce and rights to inheritance. Near equality was also attained for access to finance and land assets.
Since taking office in 2020, the administration allocated over 18,000 house lots by the end of October 2022. Rodrigues noted that approximately 8000 (44 per cent) of these allocations were women, who were sole applicants. Meanwhile, allocations to women with joint applications stood at 5137 (28 per cent). It was further highlighted that the New Building Society (NBS) and Guyana Bank for Trade and Industry (GBTI) have loaned $17.3 billion and $4.4 billion, respectively, to women for mortgages and commercial purposes.
“We’ve come from a period in history where women had no rights. We didn’t have the right to vote. We went through the Suffragette Movement so that women could be allowed to vote. Women could not own land, now more and more women are owning land, owning their own homes and owning their own businesses. And that’s because too you have a climate here in Guyana created by the Government, the PPP/C Government, that is private sector friendly and that’s because we understand the importance that the private sector plays in any country,” Rodrigues stated.
Underscoring a number of other initiatives by the Government to develop women, the Minister spoke of the recently inked carbon credits agreement with Hess Corporation that will see US$112 million injected into Amerindian communities.
She highlighted that a number of Amerindian households, which are headed by women will be directly impacted. Under the multi-million Black Belly Sheep Project launched by President Ali, at least 20 per cent of farms are expected to be women-led and 30 per cent have youth involvement.
Further, the International Building Expo 2022 hosted by the Housing and Water Ministry in July, saw scores of women-led businesses reporting growth following the exposure to local, regional and international companies.
The Government has also implemented a number of other programmes and policies through the Office of the First Lady and several Ministries including the Human Services and Social Security Ministry; Education Ministry; Tourism, Industry and Commerce Ministry among others to improve the lives of Guyanese women.
While the World Economic Forum reports that it will take another 132 years to attain global gender parity, Rodrigues said that the PPP/C Administration will continue to make the necessary investments to ensure it is accelerated in Guyana.
“I believe that Guyana will be a shining example in creating gender parity sooner than many countries in the Caribbean, in South America and in the world as a whole because we have shown great strides already and the prosperity that is coming to our country will ensure we get there even faster,” the Minister affirmed.
She also applauded WCCIG for its role in creating a space for the social and economic development of women and encouraged more public and private sector organisations to play their role to stimulate equality.
WCCIG also launched its Women Empowerment Programme Theme Song: “More Than Worthy” by Simeon Browne and also presented several awards to women in business at the event.