Social Cohesion Minister, Dr George Norton on Tuesday met with Councillors of the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) of Georgetown and urged them to realise their role in fostering social cohesion towards a unified Guyana.
Minister within the Communities Ministry, Dawn Hastings-Williams and Mayor of Georgetown, Patricia Chase Green also attended the meeting at the Councillors’ Chambers.
In delivering his address, Minister Norton said, “We cannot overemphasise the role that you have to play in [the Ministry of] Social Cohesion attaining its vision [of] a unified Guyana, where diversities are embraced, conflicts resolved, networks and collaborations with stakeholders strengthened, equity promoted and decision-making process resulting in equal opportunities and benefits for all.”
The Minister also noted that while social cohesion was enshrined in Guyana’s Constitution, it could only be achieved if every individual played a role in the process. As such, he said the Ministry was looking forward to the M&CC’s full support in fostering that solidarity.
Meanwhile, Programme Coordinator at the Social Cohesion Ministry, Sharon Patterson provided an overview of the Ministry’s mandate and said social cohesion was “a progressive process of enhancing social integration and harmony within and across the various social groups in Guyana”.
She noted that in its two-year history the Ministry has embarked on a number of initiatives, including hosting sensitisation sessions countrywide, implementing its National Strategic Plan on Social Cohesion 2017-2021 and has executed several projects aimed at boosting the earning potential of vulnerable and other groups, all aimed at creating an enabling environment for a wide cross-section of stakeholders to contribute to the process of building a unified Guyana.
Several Councillors expressed the view that with the Ministry’s support they could take the lead in fostering solidarity in communities.
Mayor Chase Green says she is confident that now that the Councillors and staff have a better understanding of what social cohesion is they can take action. “I think [initially] they thought of it as something that belonged to the ‘higher’ persons. With all the explanations given this morning, I think the staff and the Councillors are well informed and we will take full advantage of the training that will be offered to us, both at the level of the staff and at the level of the Councillors because we really do have a task in the community to bring [people] together,” she said.