Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Civil Society Charged to Hold APNU-AFC Government Accountable to Manifesto Promises



The Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) and the Guyana Equality Forum (GEF) officially opened its three-day Civil Society Public Policy Training for the Guyanese Vulnerable Communities Capacities Strengthening Project, funded by the Delegation of the European Union to Guyana, on Wednesday, September 16, 2015.  The project was designed to contribute towards the equitable treatment of all peoples in Guyana by supporting efforts to strengthen the participation of vulnerable persons and their representative organisations in decision-making processes of the state. The three-day training, held at the Regency Suites/Hotel, Hadfield Street, Georgetown, marks the second phase of the three phase project.
The official opening was chaired by the Secretary of SASOD’s Board, Alana Da Silva, and was attended by members of the diplomatic corps, representatives of United Nations agencies, other special invitees, in addition to the civil society participants.
John Quelch, Project Coordinator, presented an overview of the project by highlighting the objectives and the intended outcomes of the training. Quelch stated that, “the training programme we are opening today marks a substantial part of the training phase,  and is intended to bring together a wide cross-section of civil society stakeholders from the length and breadth of Guyana and to provide them with a thorough and focused introduction to and appreciation of the principles and practices of effective public-policy advocacy and to prepare them for successful involvement in Guyanese public-policy consultations and decision-making which affect their lives and the communities they represent.” 

BRIEF REMARKS by Raphael Trotman, Hon. Minister of Governance



BRIEF REMARKS 
by Raphael Trotman, Hon. Minister of Governance
Official Opening of the Civil Society Policy Policy Advocacy Training



Greetings, and congratulations to SASOD and GEF for recognising the need for training to enhance the engagement among stakeholders on matters that affect everyone.  The Guyanese Vulnerable Communities Capacities Strengthening Project funded by the EU recognises the importance of Civil Society organisations specifically targeting those with the most need, those who may be forgotten in our haste to achieve development targets and increase the economic wealth of our country and those existing on the fringe of society, unsure of their way in. 

An active, vibrant, well informed populace is critical to ensuring that its interests are addressed by its leaders and civil society’s advocacy is the vehicle through which this goal can be achieved.  Advocacy should not be seen however as an excuse for the trampling of the rights of others in an effort to achieve group goals but rather must be exercised with the intention of building relationships and strengthening democracy.  Civil society organisations that actively work with the most vulnerable are best positioned to inform and guide the process towards the creation of public policies that are inclusive and effective.

The Government of Guyana is one for all peoples in this land and embraces active, respectful engagements with representatives of civil society in the creation of policies and in their implementation.  The right to access to information and participation in the formulation of policies and programmes is enshrined in a number of our critical laws including the Access to Information Act and are being upheld by this new administration. 

The development of Guyana depends largely on the ability of its diverse groups to collaborate and make decisions that move the country forward.  As such, I call on each of you participating in this capacity building exercise to envision over the next two days how you can positively influence and impact the creation of a better Guyana, a more informed and cohesive Guyana. 

We look forward to future engagements that will see public policy advocacy that result in Guyana achieving the greatest good for its people. 

Best wishes for fruitful discussions and tangible outcomes. 



Feature Remarks by Mr. Benedikt Madl, Head, Bilateral Cooperation



Feature Remarks 
delivered by Mr. Benedikt Madl, Head, Bilateral Cooperation
Public Policy Advocacy Training 
for the Guyanese Vulnerable Communities Capacity Strengthening Project
September 16, 2015 at the Regency Hotel, Hadfield Street, Georgetown



Madam Chairperson
Members of the Head Table
Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Representatives of Civil Society Organisations



Mr. Benedikt Madl, Head, Bilateral Cooperation
Good morning.

It is my honour that I today represent the European Union to deliver the feature remarks at this opening session of the Public Policy Advocacy Training.  This training forms an integral part of the European Union funded Guyanese Vulnerable Communities Capacities Strengthening Project which is being executed by the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD).

First, I would like to congratulate and applaud Joel Simpson and the team at SASOD for this initiative which aims to strengthen and further empower the many civil society organisations present here in their approach and engagement with the decision and policy makers in Guyana.  Coming on the heels of the baseline and mapping studies earlier undertaken in the project, this Public Policy Advocacy Training having been informed of the needs of your organisations, will provide you with the principles and practices of effective public policy and for effective public consultations with the policy makers in Guyana.   

Guyana Vulnerable Capacities Strengthening Project Overview

By: John Quelch
at the Opening of the Civil Society Public Policy Advocacy Training 



John Quelch, Projects Coordinator

Head of Bilateral Cooperation of the Delegation of the European Union to Guyana, Mr. Benedikt Madl, other members of the head table, members of the media, colleagues, good morning to you all. It’s my distinct honour to share with you a brief overview of the Guyana Vulnerable Capacities Strengthening Project.

The EU-funded Guyanese Vulnerable Communities Capacities Strengthening Project was designed to contribute towards the equitable treatment of all peoples in Guyana by supporting efforts to strengthen the participation of vulnerable persons and their representative organisations in decision-making processes of the state. This is continuously being achieved through strengthening the capacities of marginalized groups in Guyana, with the strong alliances of the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD), the Guyana Equality Forum (GEF), and other Civil Society Organisations and partners, to effect key social, legal and policy changes in the country which advance full equality and citizenship for the vulnerable people in Guyana.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

As Suicides Rise, Documentary and Discussion Highlight Gaps in Guyana's Mental Health Approach

 Attendees engrossed in the film
(Georgetown) – The Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) in partnership with Depressed Black Gay Men (DBGM), Inc., with support from the United States Agency for International Development – Advancing Partnerships and Communities Project hosted a screening and discussion on the widely-acclaimed documentary “You Are Not Alone” on Wednesday, August 26, 2015 at the Dutch Bottle CafĂ© in Georgetown.
The documentary, breaking a taboo in the Black and Black gay communities, was screened at a time when the numbers of suicides in Guyana continue to rise. As a film looking at depression, often an immediate precursor to suicide, it explored and provided a backdrop for many who attended the screening to learn about the underlying factors, such as culture, that contribute to the high rate of suicide in Guyana. Although the film, produced by US-based Guyanese Antoine Craigwell, looks at the factors leading to Black gay men experiencing and descending into depression and thoughts of suicide, attempts and completion, many of the issues expressed found ready applicability to the Guyanese socio-cultural context.