Education, economics vital to advancing gender equality – First Lady

Advancing education and economics among women is vital to promoting and accelerating gender equality, which is a critical pillar to economic growth and human progress.

First Lady, Arya Ali made the assertion Wednesday while delivering the keynote address at the opening of the Caribbean Gender Empowerment Forum at the Guyana Marriott Hotel, Kingston, Georgetown.

First Lady, Arya Ali delivers the keynote address on Wednesday

Acknowledging that it is one of the main Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030, the first lady highlighted gender equality as a matter of social justice, which allows equal access to rights, resources, and opportunities.

The forum brings together policymakers and experts to discuss how government, civil society organisations, and the private sector can support gender empowerment in Guyana and the Caribbean.

It also aims to provide insight into the impact of climate change on women and girls and to advocate for gender-responsive policies and budgets.

“Today, the importance of advancing justice for women is more pressing than ever. Crises generated by challenges linked to for example, the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, demographic and technological shifts as well as violence and insecurity including gender-based violence and harassment, undermine our fundamental human rights and affect women’s chances of building a good life for themselves. This is a threat to economic growth and human progress,” the First Lady Ali stated.

Education, she added, lies at the heart of the call to action as it is a fundamental right and is critical to improving equality, voice, and power of women and girls. However, many factors are still hindering women and girls from accessing education.

The Menstrual Hygiene Initiative which was launched two years ago, is now benefitting more than 30,000 school-aged females after it was found that in vulnerable families, girls were missing school sessions due to them being unable to afford sanitary napkins.

“Our intervention in this particular area must therefore be bold and so nothing less than transformational will be necessary to ensure we truly equip our girls for the future. And while we make progress for girls, we must not forget about the thousands of women who have already missed out on education. They need different educational support as well as access to childcare services, technical and vocational training, training in life skills, and decent paid work,” she further underscored.

In relation to economics, First Lady Ali emphasised that unleashing the economic power of women must be high on the agenda, as it can lead to economic growth.

She also noted that stakeholders must work collectively to build and advance upon the gender equality initiatives that are already being implemented successfully.

The gender equality forum is being facilitated through partnership with the Atlantic Council and UN Women, and a recipient UN Organisation as part of the European Union–United Nations Spotlight Initiative programme.

Among the presenters at the event were the Representative of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Gillian Smith, Chief Executive Officer of the Women and Gender Equality Commission of Guyana, Renata Chuck-A-Sang and UNDP Resident Representative in Guyana, Gerardo Noto.

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