More women prisoners will be pardoned this year, President David Granger announced at an event to celebrate Guyanese women in keeping with global festivities to mark International Women’s Day. Last December, Mr. Granger released 11 women who had been locked away from their children in jail for petty offences.
But despite the reproach he faced from the political opposition and members of the legal fraternity, the President said he intends to ensure that women do not remain in jail for minor crimes while their children are left to fend for themselves.
“I intend to pardon more women again this December,” the President told a room full of diplomats, government ministers and women from all walks of life. Mr. Granger said he sees a serious problem with separating a mother from her children because of petty offences.
“If it is wrong to sell ganja, I think it is more wrong to separate a woman from her children,” he said. The President delivered the feature address as the ceremony which saw the honoring of women from the 10 administrative regions.
He said a major problem for his government in seeking gender equality is changing a culture that is embedded in the minds of Guyanese.
The President said more time must be dedicated to dealing with women issues and assured that these issues will remain a priority on his government’s agenda.
He reiterated his commitment to achieving the Millennium Development Goals by 2030, particularly Goal #5 which seeks the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls. “We must move into the realm of action and break down the barriers that prevent women from being equal to men.”
Also addressing the event was Social Protection Minister, Volda Lawrence.
Lawrence said she was happy that time was being taken to pay homage to Guyanese women who over last few years heeded the call and emerged from the closet to assume important decision-making positions and critical roles in society.
She believes that women are however that still challenged by discriminatory practices, sexual violence and abuse and urge an end in behaviors that encourage these practices.