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4-year project launched to strengthen justice for indigenous women and girls

Stakeholders present at launch who signed the MOU for the project

A four-year project has been launched to increase the realisation of rights to inclusive, quality, and gender-responsive justice for women, girls, and indigenous victims of sexual and gender-based violence in Guyana.

The Justice Education Society (JES) launched the ‘Strengthening Justice for Women, Girls, and Indigenous Peoples in Guyana’ project on Tuesday. This project is funded by the High Commission of Canada to Guyana and will take place from March 1 to December 31.

JES is a Canadian organisation that empowers justice institutions through comprehensive capacity-building and training of justice professionals to improve the delivery of justice and equitable access to legal services.

High Commissioner of Canada, Mark Berman said, “The Project that we’re launching today cross-cuts three areas of critical importance to the Government of Guyana; indigenous welfare, sexual and gender-based violence or SGDB, and access to justice – particularly for the most vulnerable and marginalised in society.”

This project will be focused primarily in Region One. An estimated over 10,000 indigenous people will directly benefit while intermediaries such as the Guyana Police Force (GPF), the Chamber of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), the Judiciary, the National Toshaos Council (NTC), Red Thread, and other women’s groups and civil society organisations (CSOS) will benefit from increased capacity to deliver services.

Project Director Lisa Thompson said, “We are also going to be working with the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs. We were asked to look at designing and implementing a programme that looks at cultural sensitivity for service providers.”

The focus at the national level will be to reduce impunity for severe violence against women and girls (sexual violence, homicides, gender-based assaults), while at the local level, the project will seek to improve access to justice for Indigenous women, girls, and peoples, taking into consideration the added complexity that COVID-19 brings.

By improving both the access of women and girls to justice institutions as well as the actual capacity of the justice system to respond to SGBV, the project will empower women and girls to exercise their rights and support a more inclusive, gender-responsive, and culturally aware society.

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