In Guyana, over 210,000 or 3 in 5 women experienced some form of violence either sexually or physically. According to the Minister of Human Services Vindhya Persaud, the figures are troubling.
The United Nations/European Union funded initiative – intended to help over 600,000 women, girls, men and boys – will assist the Ministry to respond and address the scourge of all forms of violence against women and girls. A budgetary allocation of 4.5 million Euros will be used to invest in strategic and catalytic interventions to address the root causes and holistically address gender-based violence and family violence over a three year-period.
“We need to ask ourselves why violence continues to be pervasive and persistent. The heartrending cries of women who are beaten, chopped, stabbed, raped, brutalized and yes, killed in this most horrific form of gender oppression have propelled us to embark on a pivotal partnership with the UN and EU to significantly improve the conditions of women, foster their empowerment and work to prevent and eliminate all forms of violence.” Minister Persaud said.
The Country document, which signals the commitment of the Spotlight Initiative was signed between Minister Persaud and UN Resident Coordinator to Guyana, Mikiko Tanaka. The signing was witnessed by EU Ambassador to Guyana, Fernando Ponz Canto.
Minster Persaud also announced that a 914 helpline will be introduced by the Ministry to facilitate the reporting of domestic and sexual violence. “I cannot over-emphasize how important it is to report every incidence of violence to stem the relentless tide,” she added.
Minister Persaud stated that the new hotline will open access to new initiatives that link survivors to agencies, advocacy programs, referral pathways, microenterprise industries, public-private skills employment database matching, and offer immediate help “to extrapolate them from violent situations.”
“It is perhaps the most obvious manifestation of deep imbalances of power in our society. The vulnerabilities epitomized through financial dependence, lower employment, the culture of silence in the face of violence, and tangible insecurities, particularly during a crisis when vulnerabilities are at their peak and protections at their lowest point will be addressed through the Spotlight Initiative,” she noted.
Other notable speakers included First Lady Arya Ali;, Ms. Tanaka; HE Ponz Canto; Marjeta Jager, EU Deputy Director-General for the Director for International Cooperation and Development (DEVCO) and Amina Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations.