University of Guyana launches Gender Policy

aimed at advancing equity, equality, non-discrimination, diversity among all staff, students, external stakeholders

08 February 2024
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UN Resident Coordinator in Guyana, Ms.Yeşim Oruç speaks at the Launch of the Gender Policy at the University of Guyana
University of Guyana
UN Resident Coordinator in Guyana, Ms.Yeşim Oruç speaks at the Launch of the Gender Policy at the University of Guyana

The University of Guyana (UG) in collaboration with European Union (EU), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Women and Gender Equality Commission (WGEC) has launched a carefully-designed Gender Policy aimed at ensuring that all staff, students and external stakeholders, irrespective of gender, have equal rights, responsibilities and development opportunities at the University.

Vice-Chancellor (VC) of the University of Guyana, Prof. Paloma Mohamed, during remarks said the University was elated to lead the process in ensuring that a carefully designed policy was written. She noted that a strong institutional framework is in place to ensure it is effectively and fully implemented.

The VC explained that a thorough process was followed by the University before the policy became final. “The university’s procedures are quite rigorous, going through four committees whenever a policy is to be made,” she said.

She further explained that the Sexual Harassment and Sexual Misconduct Policy, a Mental Wellness Policy and an Inclusion, Diversity and Equity Policy will also complement the Gender Policy. Dr. Mohamed thanked the EU, UNICEF, UNDP and the WEGC for their support in ensuring the policy was finalized.

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"This launch also signals the University’s commitment to ensuring both equity and equality"

Deputy Representative (OIC), UNICEF Guyana & Suriname, Mr. Javier Cordoba

Deputy Representative Officer-in-Charge (OIC), UNICEF Guyana and Suriname, Mr. Javier Cordoba, during a virtual presentation, congratulated the University and partners for the efforts made in ensuring the realization of the policy. He highlighted that the policy is part and parcel of a longer-term investment and collaboration as part of the European Union-United Nations Spotlight Initiative investment in Guyana. “This new policy will complement those investments and will also support the work for the establishment of the Gender Institute this year,” Cordoba said.

He added, “This launch also signals the University’s commitment to ensuring both equity and equality, as per the laws of Guyana and Guyana’s international commitment, such as those outlined in the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and the Convention on the Rights of the Child,” Cordoba said.

Sharing similar sentiments, UN Resident Coordinator in Guyana, Ms. Yeşim Oruç said, “This product stands alongside other related outputs developed through various Pillars of the Spotlight Initiative in collaboration with the Government of Guyana, the Private Sector and other key stakeholders.”

“I encourage the University of Guyana to quickly and fully implement the Gender Policy. A policy on paper is a remarkable product which is the culmination of the countless efforts of countless people. But even better than a policy on paper, is a policy in action – one that is so inextricably woven into the fabric of campus life that it becomes a defining characteristic,” she added.

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European Union Ambassador to Guyana, Rene van Nes
University of Guyana
European Union Ambassador to Guyana, Rene van Nes delivers remarks at the Launch of the Gender Policy at the University of Guyana

The European Union Ambassador to Guyana, Rene van Nes, noted that the EU was very pleased to support the initiative, noting that the Gender Policy will help to ensure that the University of Guyana promotes gender equality, equity, non-discrimination and justice, and equal opportunities within the academic community for all staff and students.

The Ambassador said, “Ensuring equal rights for all individuals, regardless of gender, serves as a powerful catalyst for the progress and prosperity of our societies. It makes our nations not only richer but also more peaceful and more secure.”

“This policy is a commitment to breaking down barriers and building bridges. It’s a promise to create a university where every one of you, regardless of gender identity, feels empowered, respected, and ready to conquer the world. Let this be the beginning of a transformative journey within the university, radiating its positive influence into the wider Guyanese society,” the Ambassador encouraged.

Vice-Chancellor (VC) of the University of Guyana, Prof. Paloma Mohamed
University of Guyana
Vice-Chancellor (VC) of the University of Guyana, Prof. Paloma Mohamed speaks at the Launch of the Gender Policy at the University of Guyana

UG’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor (DVC) for Institutional Advancement, Dr Melissa Ifill, in her brief overview of the policy, noted that “the purpose of the Gender Policy include — to create a work and academic environment to ensure students, job applicants and staff members receive the same treatment, irrespective of gender or gender identity; to create a safe environment that is free from all forms of violence for all regardless of their gender; to end discrimination based on gender and gender identities; to raise awareness of gender equality, gender equity and gender justice; and to mainstream gender awareness in the University’s operations.”

Dr. Ifill outlined that, among the objectives of the policy are: 1) To promote working and learning environments in which all staff and students are treated with dignity and respect; 2) To prohibit gender, gender identity and gender expression being used as criteria or requirement to disadvantage any staff or student; 3) To outline guidelines to report, and procedures to investigate, allegations of discriminatory behaviours or attitudes; 4) To promote a zero-tolerance policy for any form of gender-based violence that emanates from gender inequality; 5) To provide guidelines for responding to all reported incidences of gender-based discrimination or violence; and 6) To provide guidelines for responding to all reported incidences of gender-based discrimination or violence.

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UG’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor (DVC) for Institutional Advancement, Dr Melissa Ifill
University of Guyana
UG’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor (DVC) for Institutional Advancement, Dr. Melissa Ifill delivers remarks at the Launch of the Gender Policy at the University of Guyana

She further explained that the policy allows for data collection and the promotion of gender diversity, and mainstreaming gender in the curriculum. In this regard, the Institute of Gender Studies will work with Faculties, Schools and Colleges to review their course/programme content to eliminate gendered value judgements and to appropriately integrate gender in all taught courses and research to promote a fair and inclusive gender environment in the classroom.

According to Dr. Ifill, the University is also utilising the Sexual Harassment and Sexual Misconduct Policy that was approved in 2021, to hold perpetrators of gender-based harassment and violence accountable. This policy includes both preventative and disciplinary measures and is a complementary policy to this Gender Policy.

She noted that training and educational materials will be made available to the University community and the public on the University of Guyana’s website.

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Head of UG’s Institute of Gender Studies, Dr. Lisa Edwards
University of Guyana
Head of UG’s Institute of Gender Studies, Dr. Lisa Edwards

Head of UG’s Institute of Gender Studies, Dr Lisa Edwards, whose Unit will play a major role in the implementation of the policy, noted that gender is one notion that cannot be ignored if we are committed to promoting the wellbeing of people. She further highlighted the policy sets a strong foundation for stakeholders to work together on achieving the objectives laid out in the document.

UN Resident Coordinator in Guyana, Ms. Yeşim Oruç with Vice-Chancellor (VC) of the University of Guyana, Prof. Paloma Mohamed, EU Ambassador to Guyana, Rene van Nes and Dr. Melissa Ifill  Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Institutional Advancement
University of Guyana
UN Resident Coordinator in Guyana, Ms.Yeşim Oruç with Vice-Chancellor (VC) of the University of Guyana, Prof. Paloma Mohamed, EU Ambassador to Guyana, Rene van Nes, Dr. Melissa Ifill Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Institutional Advancement and Ms. Nicole Cole, Commissioner of Women & Gender Equality

Media contacts

Crystal Tamika Stoll
Communications Officer
UNICEF Guyana and Suriname
Tel: 592-703-9769

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