Monday, December 29, 2014

Local Civil Society Groups Plug Equality at Youth Rally

A number of youth organisations and groups took part in the Human Rights Day Youth Rally on Wednesday, December 10 to demonstrate that “Youth Voices Matter.” The Youth Rally was held in  observance  of World  Human  Rights  Day  and the goal of  the  event  was  to  educate,  engage  and  empower  young people  about basic human rights. The idea was to highlight that human rights belong to everyone, everywhere and that youth voices matter; and  most importantly, that youth should be involved – educated, engaged and empowered - to address rights issues affecting their communities.
Individuals painting their Human Rights Day Messages at the Mural
Even with some rainfall the event was able to engage patrons through cultural presentations, which saw a number of talented youth addressing human rights through song, dance, poetry, and musical renditions. Local artistes who performed included Chelsie France, Francis Bailey, Katina Benn, Anesa Slater, Elsie Harry, Music Unlimited and the Deaf Association of Guyana’s drumming group. 
Representatives from the Deaf Association of Guyana preforming at the cultural concert
There was mural painting which provided an engaging platform for persons of all ages and walks of life to express their thoughts and feelings about human rights through art. The information station served to provide youth-focused and rights-based organisations with an opportunity to share information about their organization, the work they do and how other young people can become involved. It also served to educate visitors about the services that exist and how they can become involved in addressing various rights issues.
The photo booth provided an opportunity for persons to support various visual advocacy campaigns. The Youth Advocacy Movement (YAM), which is the youth arm of the Guyana Responsible Parenthood Association (GRPA), ran a photo-framing and message-painting campaign to promote young people’s expression and advocacy for their sexual and reproductive rights, while SASOD launched its Instagram page coinciding with World Human Rights Day to promote equality for all Guyanese every day, adopting the United Nations’ hashtag for the global campaign, #rights365. Human  Rights  Day,  observed  globally  on  December  10,  provides the opportunity  to  celebrate human rights, highlight challenges, and advocate for the full enjoyment of all human rights, for everyone, everywhere. Human Rights Day is aimed at bringing awareness to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Through this event, focus was also placed on the Convention on the Rights of a Child to encourage young people to promote the rights of children in Guyana as well, as abuses against children are far too common in our society. 
Participants at Human Rights Day Express Yourself Photo Booth
The Human Rights Day Youth Rally was hosted by the Guyana Equality Forum (GEF), a network of civil society organisations working for equal rights and justice for all Guyanese. GEF members who participated in the event include the Guyana Trans United (GTU), Guyanese Organisation of Indigenous People (GOIP), S4 Foundation, Blue CAPS, Help and Shelter, Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD), Guyana Responsible Parenthood Association (GRPA) – Youth Advocacy Movement (YAM) and the Deaf Association of Guyana (DAG). Other partners also included are the Volunteerism Support Platform, Caribbean Youth Environmental Network,   Global Sharpers – Georgetown Hub, REDbandaid Foundation, Guyana National Youth Council and the Guyana Business Coalition on HIV and AIDS (GBCHA). The GEF thanks everyone who took part in the Youth Rally or supported the event.

Friday, December 19, 2014

SASOD raises LGBT Mental Health at Cuso Volunteer Forum



On December 4, 2014, SASOD’s Managing Director, Joel Simpson, gave a presentation on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) human rights issues to SASOD partner organization Cuso International, an Ottawa-based international development NGO, at the Grand Coastal Hotel on the East Coast of Demerara.  He was followed by sociologist, Dr. Ryan Higgitt, providing Cuso with an overview on his research on LGBT mental health in Guyana. Dr. Higgitt is a Cuso Volunteer currently attached to SASOD as Mental Health Researcher.  Simpson drew attention to the discrimination faced by LGBT Guyanese and how it leads to mental health issues, while Higgitt underscored how recent statistics offered by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) illustrate the way suicide mortality tends to take on specific socio-historical patterns that call into question fundamental tenets of a modern medical model which reduce mental illness to an ‘individual’ problem.