Fifteen women were awarded by the Human Rights and Social Justice Com-mission (HRSJC) of the Anglican Diocese of Guyana on Saturday, during its second annual walk and awards presentation, held in observance of International Women’s Day.
According to a release from the Commission, the women were nominated for their extraordinary performance and for going above and beyond their standard job requirements to ensure the comfort and happiness of parishioners and community members.
Those honoured were: Yolanda Vascon-cellos (Christ Church), Maylene Ann Bollers James (Christ the King), Laurna Williams (St. Sidwell’s), Edna Edwards (Region 7), Sheila Seales (St. Swithin’s), Andrea Ragunandan (St. John-of-the-Cross), Nechelle Cosbert (St. Mark’s), Annie Charles (St. Mark’s), Joan James (Deceased), Paulette Charles, Ena Holder, Lerene Alberta Gordon (St. Alban’s), Virginia Watts (St. Gabriel’s), Doreen Glew (St. Philip’s), and Yvonne Duncan.
“The Commission believes that it is important to honour and celebrate the contributions of outstanding women in the Diocese and by extension, Guyana and to urge its parishioners to join the call for a more gender-balanced world and church,” the release stated.
The keynote address at Saturday’s event was delivered by Schemel Patrick, a member of St. Swithin’s Parish Church and Chairperson of the Human Rights and Social Justice Commission of the Diocese of Guyana.
Patrick, in her address, emphasised that the church has a voice and role to play in educating and empowering parishioners and communities and can play a pivotal role in the advancement of women’s rights.
She also pointed to the strides made by the Diocese of Guyana to ensure the church is more gender-balanced, and called for women to strive to take up more places at the helm.
“In 2016, the Diocese approved the ordination of women in the priesthood; in 2017, the church consecrated and ordained its first ever female and first ever indigenous woman as a Deacon,” the release noted.
It added, “She [Patrick] continued that women within the Diocese exist at all levels of the church – on the vestry, as lay ministers, as sextons and in many other various capacities. She, however, made a pressing charge for more women to be trained for the priesthood. She emphasised, “Please do not say that you are weak because you are a woman. Let us collectively strive to ensure that women continue to be given an equal place at the table – that their thoughts and works continue to be valued and included”.
The Commission said Patrick also shared with those gathered the United Nation’s theme, “Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change” and urged them to think of innovative activities and initiatives to advance gender equality and the empowerment of women.