The Guyana Women Miners Organisation (GWMO) writes in response to a letter published in the Kaieteur News on January 15, and in the Stabroek News on January 16 titled ‘GWMO needs to hold an AGM’ by M Higgins. The signatory would seem to represent a member who has not financially contributed since 2014 and has not attended any meetings in her statutory capacity since 2016.
The GWMO continues to persevere in our efforts to develop systems and policies to assist our country’s most vulnerable women and children.
Firstly, the GWMO continues to work in compliance with the Laws of Guyana and the Friendly Societies Act. Contrary to what the letter claims, we have been audited within the past three years and have held our Annual General Meeting within that timeframe. Had this information emanated from a financial member, they would have been informed at our last quarter general membership meeting on October 25, 2017 and had been told that our next AGM will be held during the first quarter after our 2017 audit is complete; again, less than three years.
Furthermore, we feel forced to respond to the blatant malicious misinformation on failing to carry the mantle against human trafficking and empowering women in mining. Within the past two years we have successfully executed the following:
- Rehabilitated the Baramita Clinic, allowing miners and women to benefit from improved healthcare facilities
- Successfully completed our Region One Trafficking in Persons, Sensitization, Rescue and Advocacy Project through the Australian Government’s Direct Aid Programme, which included Trafficking in Persons sensitization in Matthews Ridge, Port Kaituma and Barima Waini
- Assisted mothers from Canal Bank, Falls Stop and Port Kaituma with school supplies for their children. This is not to mention, that we provided education supplies and materials to the Mabura and Issano Primary Schools, in an effort to increase community access to education.
- We advocated for the repair of Aishalton Police Station, which was included in the 2017 budget and Matthew’s Ridge Police Station, which was included in the 2018 budget allowing for the improvement of substandard conditions which will be a morale booster for the men and women of the Guyana Police Force serving there.
- We rescued, assisted, reintegrated and advocated for victims of Trafficking in Persons from Eyelash, Lethem, Brazil, Baramita, Port Kaituma, Dominican Republic and Venezuela. In addition there were the twenty-six women and girls rehabilitated in 2016 through our Together in Peace project, in collaboration with the Sisters of Mercy. This project is continuing under our mandate of protecting victims as they attend court, earn an education, acquire skills, and benefit from the warmth and support of our qualified staff, whose commitment aids greatly in the success of our residents.
- When our executives first took up their positions, the organization was a member of the Hinterland Intelligence Committee and an observer on the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission Board of Directors. Through our commitment, drive and informed contributions to the development of various sectors and the country, we now sit on the National Trafficking in Persons Task Force and were noted as the only contributor to their current Action Plan. In addition, the GWMO had a director on the GGMC’s Board of Directors and held the post of Vice Chairman in 2016. We represent small miners on the EITI Multi-Stake-holder Group, and serve as a member on the boards of the El Dorado Mining Initiative, Guyana Skills Development and Employability Project, the National Malaria Technical Oversight Committee, the Alliance for Responsible Mining – Market Entry Committee, Green State Development Project, and Multi-Stake-holder Expert Group, and continue to serve on the Hinterland Intelligence Committee. This is not to mention serving on the Amerinidan Land Titling Project steering committee and the Peer Group that coined the Ministry of Social Cohesion’s Five Year Plan for peace. The only board that offers a minimal stipend is the GGMC Board of Directors ‒ please note that it is payable to our representative and not the organization. The representation has led to the adoption of three policies in 2017 alone, as well as made contributions towards the enhancement of the commission for the benefit of staff and miners.
- In 2016 we organized with our regional representatives to submit over one hundred applications to the Closed Area Committee during their land distribution exercise. This resulted in fifty-two members being selected as successful applicants. In 2017, we advocated for an extension of their payment, which was approved by the Minister of Natural Resources but not executed by the GGMC.
We continue to advocate on their behalf because assisting women in mining remains our unwavering commitment.
- Fifty families including women escaping abuse and foster families who are within public assistance, received food hampers compliments of Food for the Poor and Troy Resources. We have not forgotten that we play a critical role in the lives of women.
- In 2017, the GWMO was the only organization from Guyana and the Caribbean that participated in the 14th Annual International Trafficking and Social Justice Conference, held in Toledo Ohio, USA. Since then stakeholders have expressed their interest in aiding the organization with its functions.
- The GWMO has continuously afforded our members opportunities to develop themselves and their businesses through training with various organisations.
- In 2017 we collaborated with GO-Invest and the Ministry of Natural Resources to afford our women land owners a platform to market their properties for investors. In 2018 we are striving for a repeat of this activity.
- We are partnered with the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association and the National Mining Syndicates to advocate for provisions for miners in the 2018 budget, which resulted in the reduction of the tributor’s tax, among other benefits to provide relief and assistance to miners.
- We continue to serve as a partner in the Marudi Mediation Agreement, representing the interest of our members from Region Nine. Over twenty of these are now land owners, awaiting the government’s allocation of land to them through the aforementioned land distribution exercise. It should also be noted that this resulted in the establishment of the legal landing in Region Nine being established.
- The GWMO is the Coordinator of the National Network Group on Trafficking In Persons. This is a component implemented under the project ‘Strengthening Guyana’s capacity to effectively combat TIP and assist victims of trafficking’ financed under the US Department of State Grant to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
Under this project, which aimed to strengthen Guyana’s capacity to effectively combat Trafficking in Persons (TIP) and assist victims of both sex trafficking and forced labour, IOM established a partnership with the GWMO to create a civil society National Networking Group designed to improve coordination efforts between civil society and government.
The National Networking Group has created a broad-based network of organizations engaged in, or conscious of TIP, to ensure better coordination of activities at civil society level, and better coordination of activities with government. This improved coordination ultimately resulted in common levels of training, common standards of care, and a more efficient provision of services to victims of trafficking. It also resulted in a wider awareness of trafficking in persons and related issues among civil society stakeholders and the broader Guyanese public.
The member agencies of the group are SASOD, Youth Challenge Guyana, Amerindian Peoples Association, UNFPA, UNICEF, St Francis Community Developers, SSYDR Inc, Red Thread, Help & Shelter, Food For the Poor, Guyana Sex Work Coalition, Burn the Price Tag.
Various tasks have been completed under this partnership.
- Through hampers from the Rotary Club of Georgetown and baby clothes from Living Hope Church, we have assisted new mothers from Regions One and Seven. As a result of our accountability in 2018 we were given twenty more hampers which have been distributed to Port Kaituma, Imbaimadai, Isssano, Achawid, Lethem, Bartica, and soon, Linden and Berbice.
We trust that this information clarifies that the only element that has been “dying a painful death” is the truth. We remain focused on resolving social, as well as economic issues and not personalities. The Guyana Women Miners Organisation believes that every person has a role to play in building the future of our nation. As we approach our sixth anniversary, the collective energy of our Executive Committee will continue to be focused on serving with compassion, transparency, vision and determination, and as we have been so elected to do, voluntarily.
We invite any financial member to visit our office for further clarification. Our books are always open.