The EQUAL Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) project, first launched in June in Trinidad and Tobago, aims to improve the quality and accessibility of these services across the country.
The Project targets Indigenous women and girls in regions 1, 7 and 9, Venezuelan Migrants, and victims of Gender based violence.
Persons of diverse gender identities and marginalised sexualities, sex workers, and persons with disabilities were highlighted as at risk groups the Project aims to assist.
Canadian High Commissioner to Guyana H.E. Mark Berman said this initiative will empower women and girls to make informed decisions about their bodies by making SRHR services and education more accessible.
“There are still pockets of the population that are unable to access sexual and reproductive health services and support for victims of gender based violence. That’s why this project was conceptualised.”
Planning involved consultation at all levels and close collaboration with the Government to deliver on this project which is a partnership between the High Commission of Canada to Guyana and the UNFPA.
Rosemary Ramitt, an advocate for persons with disabilities, underscored the importance of ensuring quality care and accessibility of SRHR services to women and girls with disabilities.
“It is known that women and girls with disabilities are more likely to experience sexual and gender based violence. They are also more likely to be discriminated against and be denied their human rights, especially their reproductive rights.”
Persons who are LGBTQ were highlighted as especially at risk in Guyana due to the stigma against the community and the criminalisation of same sex relationships between men.
Indigenous women were stated as at risk due to the long standing societal norms passed down through generations that may cause many of them not to report instances of GBV. Persons residing in Indigenous Communities have also reported inequity in access to services as compared to persons living on the coast.
The Ministry of Health laments that there have been cases of discrimination in the past in this area of Healthcare, and welcomes this initiative to strengthen capacity.
The Ministry will also now be implementing telemedicine in Region 9, with the aim of expanding later on. This will give hinterland communities direct access to a higher level of medical expertise.
Minister of Human Services and Social Security Hon. Dr. Vindhya Persaud underscored the importance of this initiative that targets SDGs three and five.
“It is important that we don’t look at it in a narrow way, but we look at it as presented this afternoon in the wider context because it has impact on family life, morbidity, mortality for children and women, and of course the wider social construct that we live in.”
Persons who are experiencing GBV or know of someone being abused and urged to dial the 914 hotline.