Families can help stem violence
-- minister urges

Guyana Chronicle
May 16, 2007

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FAMILIES can help stop discrimination and the worrying violence against women, Human Services and Social Security Minister Priya Manickchand urged yesterday as Guyana joined other countries to observe International Day for Families.

Addressing a gathering at the National Cultural Centre in Georgetown, she noted that families the world over are subjected to challenges, ranging from the breakdown in discipline in homes and in schools, to the decline in moral values and an increase in juvenile delinquency.

Ms. Manickchand stressed that the phenomenon of street children in Guyanese society and the devastating scourge of HIV/AIDS which has left many children without parents, are all issues which are demanding attention and are receiving strategic attention from the government.

She noted too that the 2007 observance was occurring against a backdrop in which many Guyanese women are still faced with issues of gender imbalances generally and even in their homes because of deeply ingrained prejudices and stereotypical cultural practices.

“As a people, as a country we must strive to eliminate discrimination and violence from the lives of our women. There is a role for families in these situations”, she said.

“Careful attention must be paid to the way in which our children are socialised. Parents must set the example - the patterns of behaviour to be emulated by children - families must be prepared to be role models for the next generation,” she urged.

Her call came at an inter-faith gathering put on by the National Commission for the Family which featured speeches, inspirational readings and stellar cultural performances by talented artistes.

Another speaker, Elder Loris Heywood, noted that the drug culture and other social ills of crime and violence threaten to engulf communities and to rip the fabric of the Guyanese society to shreds.

He felt that most of the social ills in the society can be fixed if parents bear up to their responsibilities to their offspring.

The programme was held under the theme: “Keeping the Family together in a changing world” to mark International Day of Families instituted by the United Nations and celebrated every year on May 15.

It was described as a celebration and the formal items were spiced with a profusion of cultural items and inspirational readings, all bearing on the theme of the importance of the family and family life for peace, development and progress in any society.

Participants were welcomed by Chairman of the Commission Mr. Frederick Cox and the two and a half hour event was chaired by another Commissioner, Mrs. Leila Austin.

The Morning Glory Choir, the West Ruimveldt Boys Choir, the Apex Academy Dance Troupe and the National School of Dance were cultural groups which gave impressive and crowd pleasing performances in song and dance in between the formal items of the programme.

Individual artistes who also gave impressive performances were Ms. Desiree Hannays, Ms. Ramona Khan and Ms. Uma Devi Bhumdai as singers, and Ms. Joan Collins and Ms. Cindy Sauers who read poems appropriate to families and family life.

During the inter-faith gathering, Christian inspirational readings on the family were read by Mr. Jack Morgan and Mrs. June Morgan, Hindu inspirational readings by Sister Rajkumarie Singh, Muslim inspirational readings by Ms. Aleema Nasir and Bahai readings by Ms. Molly Aidun.

Participants sang the song “We are the world” and the programme ended with a vote of thanks given by National Commission for the Family Commissioner Rajkumarie Singh followed by a closing prayer recited by all.

The National Commission for the Family falls under the auspices of the Ministry of Labour, Human Services and Social Security and comprises 14 commissioners, many of whom were at yesterday’s event.