The vulnerability of women who lack formal education, which severely constrains their income generation/wealth creation capabilities, has been the primary causative factor of women remaining in abusive relationships, especially when providing requisite necessities for offspring is of major consideration.
Successive People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Governments have tried to ameliorate the social dislocations of families caused by such dysfunctional constructs in multiple ways. The Women of Worth economic initiative, launched by then Social Services Minister Priya Manickchand, was established as a loan programme that provided low-interest and collateral-free loans to single mothers from lower-income brackets who wished to start up or expand their businesses.
Education Minister Priya Manickchand, in both her previous and current stint in the role, formulated systems in the academic arena that levelled the educational playing field and fructified in top students at all levels emerging from not only the elite schools but schools countrywide.
On September 5, 2020, she launched the Workforce Recovery Initiative programme offered by the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) and Coursera in Guyana that offered 4000 free online courses from reputable universities through Coursera. The number of Guyanese who registered for the Workforce Recovery Initiative to pursue free online courses in various areas exceeded 53,371, and 43,305 certificates were issued to 9473 persons.
Women have natural skills that could generate income to enable comfortable, if not luxurious, lifestyles for themselves and families. However, most women do not translate these inherent skills into profitable business ventures, so they are often exploited.
To foster empowerment and build skillsets for women and girls, especially school drop-outs, the Human Services Ministry launched a women’s empowerment programme last Friday, May 7, 2021.
The Women’s Innovation and Investment Network (WIIN), which seeks to help women and girls become financially independent, will be piloted in Baramita, Region One (Barima-Waini). The programme, which offers free training in information and communication technology, décor and design, graphics, beauty and wellness, professional care, garment construction, hospitality, and administration, etc, will be delivered both in-person and online. It is open to women from all across Guyana. WIIN is an off-shoot of WE LIFT, an empowerment exercise for women that was held at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre.
According to Human Services and Social Security Minister, Dr Vindhya Persaud, under the project , each recipient “will be empowered and able to provide for herself and children”. She iterated that a woman in an abusive relationship can be enabled through WIIN to choose either to remain or to leave the relationship.
“If she does make such a choice, she would then be in a better position to care for her needs.”
Our Indigenous communities would be given special consideration, with plans to come on-stream for the Ministry to arrange to translate the modules into their native languages.
According to Minister Persaud, “People have to be able to see, seize, and create opportunities in preparation of where our country is going and be very creative so that they have a competitive edge in promoting their skills.”
Plans are also afoot for a series of technical vocational training programmes across the country. People can apply to these online, through hard-copy applications available at Ministry locations, and through community outreaches that have already commenced.
Education and skills training and development are primary factors in cultivating economic independence for vulnerable persons, and to further this, the Ministry is in the process of setting up a female-centric business incubator at the Guyana Women’s Leadership Institute, where WIIN and other programmes will be activated, with correlating centres throughout the country.
The empowerment/educational/skills training programmes may catalyse a surge of hope in lives long existing in physical subjugation, emotional despair, and mental bondage, alleviating the mental health issues that mainly stem from depression, primarily caused by helplessness and hopelessness.