Women and Gender Equality Commission urges National Assembly to actively consider reports

Last Updated on Monday, 25 September 2023, 20:57 by Denis Chabrol

House Speaker Manzoor Nadir (second from left in front row) and WGEC Chairman Indranie Chandarpal hold the 2021-2022 WGEC Report. In picture are other members of the commission.

The constitutional Women and Gender Equality Commission (WGEC) on Monday begged House Speaker Manzoor Nadir to take steps to ensure its reports find themselves before bipartisan parliamentary committees in order to influence public policy.

WGEC Chairman, Indranie Chandarpal issued the appeal at the presentation of the commission’s Annual Report (2021-2022) in the National Assembly’s Chamber, Parliament Building. She said the commission believed that much more effort was needed to ensure that the system works in harmony rather than merely satisfying a constitutional requirement that a report must be submitted to the National Assembly.

The WGEC spent GY$39,573,289 in 2021 and GY$37,403,000 in 2022. For 2023, that commission has been allocated GY48,466,000.

Noting that during 2021-2022, WGEC identified 13 very important issues for the National Assembly to “guide policymakers” based on engagements with stakeholders. “We believe that it’s imperative that we present the report with recommendations, but it should not be left to accumulate dust anywhere,” she said. The relevant bipartisan committees, she said, should examine the report, provide guidance to the commission and have further discussion “so that we are really making progress and not just satisfying the requirement of presenting a report.”

She later told Demerara Waves Online News that none of the 10 periodic reports has been sent to a parliamentary committee.

The WGEC Chairman told the House Speaker that the commission was challenging him to provide guidance “not later but as soon as possible”.  In accepting the report, Mr Nadir remarked that WGEC and other rights commissions were not going through a routine process. “It comes not to the executive but to the people’s representatives- the Parliament- so this is not a mechanical motion we are going through. This is significant work in terms of building, strengthening, recognising, appreciating and more particularly understanding the fabric of our society,” he said.

The WGEC’s 2021-2022 report contains 13 recommendations including the need for harmonisation of data collection across agencies, access to data on women’s health, a study on the status implementation and impact of the 30-year old Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, the establishment of a committee for monitoring Guyana’s progress in fulfilling the Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, widening of the pool of persons available to become jurors, full implementation of the Health and Family Life Education syllabus, encourage women to take up careers in STEM, and the establishment of elder care facilities similar to the Palms in each region.