January 12, 2020
In presenting two reports to the National Assembly on Wednesday, the Women and Gender Equality Commission (WGEC) was urged to do more to stop systemic misogyny in Guyana and prevent the public airing of certain types of music that degrade women in general.Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr Barton Scotland said he believed that the Commission could find more creative ways of doing this and encouraged the members to take this recommendation into serious consideration so that corrective action could be taken soon.Speaker of the National Assembly Dr Barton Scotland being presented with the 5th and 6th Annual Reports of the Women and Gender Equality Commission by its Chairperson Indra Chanderpaul“I am happy to see that it is a continuing concern about the preference … a section of our citizenry … continue to have about certain types of music and certain lyrics which offend people…I am saying that, because I don’t think it’s only women who are annoyed or upset by it, but it needs to be put into the mainstream of concerns, because it is something that ought not to happen,” he explained.According to the Speaker, while people have the right to play these kinds of music at their homes or at a private party, he stressed that they should not regale the community with it. “There is nothing wrong with us being creative enough to put something, to do something…” he added.While recognising that this may take some time to materialise, Dr Scotland encouraged the WGEC to begin working now and that would lead to other stages that would hopefully lead to the ultimate goal.Domestic violenceMeanwhile, he said the issue of domestic violence and women rights in the home have now become commonplace in Guyana, especially since many people have certain views that were being nurtured.“We could also look at how law enforcement can help and whether you are satisfied that resources available in terms of training whether those need to be constantly brought to the fore.”The Speaker also used the opportunity to congratulate the WGEC for its work and said he remained hopeful that the routine handing over of these important reports could advance to other stages.WGEC Chairperson Indra Chandarpal said while it was a statutory requirement to submit these reports, she also agreed with the Speaker that work should continue beyond just submitting the reports.Chandarpal recalled that she had, through the Parliamentary Management Committee, proposed that the Parliament reviewed its standing orders with the view of making changes on how to proceed after a report was submitted.“All these reports I believe are important, because a lot of valuable work is done and when you present it and lay it and that’s all you do. But we need to take it a step further,” she emphasised.It was further recognised that the Commission has never taken a vote to come to a decision even though it was diverse. “This is to show that there is that will within that commission to work around the issues to have consensus,” Chandarpal said, stating that the body has done a good job despite the difficulty and challenges it has faced over the years.Chandarpal also singled out Commissioner Nicole Cole, who she said had exposed the degrading music being played on local airwaves. Cole also represents the WGEC on the Mash Secretariat and has been advocating for less degrading music to be played during those celebrations.“There is that concern that we have been expressing. And I believe that it will take a little while to make changes, but at least the process has started not only by the Commission but other organisations.”The WGEC Chair said some 22 recommendations were made to the National Assembly for serious consideration, including the possible enactment of legislation and policy on sexual harassment in the workplace; delivery of comprehensive sexual and reproduction age-appropriate health and rights education in school, and promoting parenting skills training in pre- and postnatal clinics in all health centres.The Fifth and Sixth Annual Reports of the WGEC were handed over to the Speaker in the presence of all Commissioners, Parliament staff and other women rights advocates.