Public discourse over gender issues and more particularly the issue of violence against women rivals and in many cases, exceeds most other items on the national agenda. The discourse is driven, mostly, by what is widely believed to be a disturbing indifference to women’s issues and a refusal to treat seriously with the need to accord women a level of recognition and respect that compares favourably with that which is accorded men.
 Guyana Review visited the campus of the University of Guyana recently where we posed five  questions on gender issues to three female undergraduates. These were their answers:

 

Dalia Fraser
Dalia Fraser

Name: Dalia Fraser
Age:- 20
Intended Career:- Biologist
Currently persuing an Associate Degree in Biology at the University of Guyana.
Question 1:- Does the Guyanese society afford men and women equal opportunity for social and intellectual growth and economic advancement or do women have to work that bit harder?
Answer:- For each type of advancement, the story is different. Generally, there is gender equality insofar as both sexes have equal access to education. The critical exceptions are sometimes tied to their socio-economic backgrounds. Poor women tend to have far fewer opportunities. In some cases intellectual growth brings social and economic growth. That is not always the case in Guyana, however. Sometimes the issue of race has a bearing on opportunity.

Question 2:- There are social scientists who argue that gender violence in Guyana is ‘a cultural thing’, that is, that many of our men are actually brought up to believe that to some extent violence against women is socially acceptable? To what extent do you share that view?
Answer:- Gender violence is still shrouded in secrecy. We in Guyana are still not entirely open about gender violence. We have problems with uneducated or immature men. That is not to say that educated men do not beat women. In other instances it is a matter of the how men are raised.

Question 3:- While there exists laws that are intended to uphold women’s rights, the view has been expressed that those laws are not being effectively enforced. Do you share that view?
Answer:- I share that view. We still have not kept abreast of  the advances that have been made in other parts of the world. There are still reports of girls being forced into sexual slavery. There are still reports of having to give sexual favours or even being raped in order to secure a job. The Ministry of Human Services has still not been able to track many of the cases; some victims don’t bother to report their ordeals.

Question 4:-Does exposure to a university environment enhance your own awareness of your equality as a woman or does the university impose the same gender biases as exist elsewhere in the society?
Answer:- Yes. Everyone at university level is given equal opportunity to achieve their individual goals.

Question 5:- If you had to identify two of the major gender-related challenges confronting women in Guyana what would those be and why do you make those choices.
Answer:- The two major gender related challenges that confront women in Guyana are
1. job opportunities
2. remuneration -It is more difficult for women to have a high ranking job in Guyana. In most high ranking jobs men are higher paid than women despite the fact that women are often more committed and loyal.

 

 Joaan Deo
Joaan Deo

 Joaan Deo
Age:- 23
Dental student at the University of Guyana
Intended Career :-  Dental Surgeon
Question 1:- Does the Guyanese society afford men and women equal opportunity for social and intellectual growth and economic advancement or do women have to work that bit harder?
Answer:-  The status quo holds a glass ceiling that often inhibits women from reaching the same professional capacities as men. But- and thank God for this- the rate at which the glass ceiling is disappearing in Guyana is significant. I am sure that in the next ten years or so the balance will shift even more significantly as a result of the increasing number of females in academic institutions.

Question 2:- There are social scientists who argue that gender violence in Guyana is ‘a cultural thing’, that is, that many of our men are actually brought up to believe that to some extent violence against women is socially acceptable? To what extent do you share that view?
Answer:- (2) I am inclined to agree with that view. Men are often socialized to be aggressive towards women. Sometimes they are oriented that way at home, sometimes in school and often through peer pressure. The media sometimes contributes too. I see some effort being made to level the playing field but the pace of change is slow. Women need to enhance their self-awareness and stop seeing themselves as objects to be abused.

Question 3:- While there exists laws that are intended to uphold women’s rights, the view has been expressed that those laws are not being effectively enforced. Do you share that view?
Answer:- Those laws that are intended to uphold women’s rights are not effectively enforced. I recall that the recent incident involving the miners at Marudi included a mother hugging her son and shielding him from multiple blows from an officer wielding a stick. That struck me. We also lack proper investigating tools to pursue some cases of abuse.

Question 4:- Does exposure to a University environment enhance your own awareness of your equality as a woman or does the university impose the same gender biases as exist elsewhere in the society?
Answer:- Yes. Two thirds of university population are females. That motivates us to achieve greater things.

Question 5:- If you had to identify two of the major gender-related challenges confronting women in Guyana what would those be and why do you make those choices.
Answer:- There are problems associated with employment opportunities. Men still have more opportunities in that area. This has to do with the traditionally dominant role that men play in society.
My second concern has to do with the fact that men are also thought of as the dominant figure in the family. The problem is, of course, that women are often required to double up as working mothers, as professionals and still do the household routine. The pressure does not only come from men. Often, it comes from children as well.

 

 Trishanna Park
Trishanna Park

Name: Trishanna Park
Age:- 19
Intended Career:-  Biologist
Currently pursuing an Associate Degree in Biology at the University of Guyana.
Faculty of Natural Sciences.
Question 1
In some situation women aren’t afforded the same opportunities as men and we indeed have to work a bit harder to prove ourselves especially in the corporate world where it is believe that women are incapable of effectively performing certain jobs such as being the chief executive officer of a business as well as a man would, in other words we are seen as inferior. However I am of the view that intellectually and socially we are given equal opportunities to pursue educational goals as well as have a social life.

Question 2
To some extent Guyanese men have been brought up to believe that violence against women is socially acceptable as many of them have grown up in homes where their mothers were victims of domestic violence, that is they were beaten as well as verbally abused without anything being done about it the relevant authority as well as society, thus they are of the opinion that violence is the way to solve any matter whether miner or major.

Question 3
Domestic Violence- many women are being killed or mutilated senselessly by their spouses on a daily basis in Guyana. On the other hand there are few reports of men being abuses or killed by women on homes or on the streets.
I am in total agreement with the view that the laws that should uphold the rights of women are not being effectively enforced since the rights of women are being eroded daily and nothing is done to prevent same

Question 4
Exposure to a university environment has enhanced my awareness to my equality as a woman as on campus equal opportunities are afforded to both men and women when it comes to gaining acceptance, attending classes or whatever it may be. At this level men and women have to work equally hard to achieve their goals or objectives irrespective of their educational pursuits. When job opportunities are being discussed by lecturers and students they are categorized on the basis of gender, all students are reminded that we have equal opportunities of getting those positions as long as we work diligently.

Question 5
One of the major gender related issues confronting women is the acquiring of certain jobs. The job market in Guyana is already limited and women are offered the same opportunity to apply for certain positions such as chauffeurs, construction workers etc…. as employers for these jobs specifically request men.

Around the Web

Comments