By Rehana Ahamad
It seems that the First Lady of GUYANA, Mrs. Arya Ali, challenges the status quo in seeking legislative changes aimed at further improving the lives of women and girls across the country. Although bold, Mrs. Ali embarks on a mission to make sanitary napkins loose in Guyana. “Even if it’s to be distributed for free in schools only, through vending machines,” he said. During her first newspaper interview, the First Lady joined millions of women around the world to question the rationale behind distributing free condoms, rather than sanitary tampons and napkins. “Sex is a choice; your menstrual cycle is not, ”he stressed.
Outlining her Office’s 2021 plans, Ali said that her team is currently seeking legal advice on the way forward with the initiative. “It’s something we throw ideas at, and something I feel should happen; I hope it would be… I want the Government to see the need for it, ”he said.
Such an ambitious effort highlights a departure from the norm that surrounds the office of the First Lady dealing with softer social issues. However, if Mrs. Ali having his way and being successful in convincing policymakers of the need for free pads, Guyana could become the second country in the world to eradicate “period poverty”.
Last year, Scotland was the first to provide free sanitary products to women and girls in the country. For centuries, “period poverty” has forced women all over the world to use a series of unclean substitutes for tampons and pads, derived from rags and old nappies, even for socks.
Nevertheless, as a short-term solution to the challenges facing women and girls in Guyana’s rural communities, First Lady Ali will be holding fundraisers to fund her ‘Country Monthly Hygiene Initiative) which aims to supply a lot to women and women. women in hinterland communities. sanitary napkins and other period supplies were needed. The first fundraiser is expected to be held in March. “I want it to be a sustainable enterprise, so we’re going to make it yearly; I hope to hold three events a year, ”noted Mrs. Ali.
Although she has only been in post for a few months, First Lady Ali has several other significant projects running concurrently, including the ‘Adopt an Orphan’ initiative, the ‘InclusAbility’ program, and the National Beauty Project.
ADOPTION OF ORPHANAGE
According to Mrs. Ali, the ‘Adopt an Orphan’ initiative has already gained momentum, with a number of businesses already signaling their intention to provide funding for orphanages throughout Guyana.
“I’m currently asking businesses to adopt an orphanage for at least six months to a year. We don’t ask these businesses for meals, because many times you go to the orphanage and they have over-ordered … what we ask businesses to do is pay the overhead costs for this orphanage, ”explained Mrs. Ali.
He said these expenses would include utility and security payments, as well as maintaining a diversified fund that would act as a buffer for emergencies experienced by these beneficial agencies. “Let’s say, for example, that one child becomes ill; this fund would pay the doctor’s consulting fees, medication, etc. ”Ali asked.
The First Lady also provided an update on her program called InclusAbility – a term coined specifically to promote the comprehensive inclusion of People with Disabilities (PWD), beginning with their integration into the local workforce. “We want to provide that space for people with disabilities to feel included and independent … to be able to go to their nine to five jobs and go home and be able to contribute to their homes,” said Mrs. Ali at the Guyana Chronicle.
InclusAbility, as created by the Office of the First Lady, aims to provide seamless connections between companies with vacancies and people with qualifying disabilities. “We already have a registry of people; we have their abilities and disabilities, ”Mrs. Ali.
He expressed satisfaction at the high levels of qualifications held by people included in the registry, as well as the commendable commitment shown by corporate Guyana to date. “We are currently working on them signing the Memorandum of Understanding, (Memorandum of Understanding), starting as early as next week.”
NATIONAL BEAUTY PROJECT
With a passion for showcasing Guyana’s beauty to the world, First Lady Ali is pushing forward the components of her National Beauty Project which has already resulted in a landmark makeover of the Kitty Seawall – one of Guyana’s most unique attractions. But this is just the tip of the iceberg, as the most iconic aspect of the project would involve establishing ‘Green Spaces’ in each administrative region, starting with the Tuschen community, East Bank Essequibo. “I want that to be a pilot project for us; as a model community, ”noted the First Lady. He explained that this project would see the crafting of an eco-friendly community park that will provide ample recreation space for all age groups, while promoting conservation, and maintaining a scenic environment that conveys all the distinctive features of Guyana architecture – urban and rural. .
Once the Tuschen aspect of the project ends, the neighborhood will also boast a multi-purpose building that provides spaces for a tutoring corner, and cultural activities among other things.
“I also want to make sure that there is provision for our elderly… that they have a place to conduct their activities and stay interactive; we want them to feel valued for everything they have done, ”said Mrs. Ali. In addition to the Seawall and Tuschen Housing Scheme, work is also underway at Cheddi Jagan International Airport, and the West Ruimveldt community. The project will also see a five-year national tree-planting (and mangrove) exercise targeting the public spaces available nationwide.
In addition, First Lady Ali also partners with the Public Service Ministry as well as a few not-for-profit organizations to provide training to 15 vulnerable women. The training would take place at the iconic Carnegie School of Home Economics. “We should be starting with that very soon,” he said.
The young Arya Ali aspires to use her office and title as First Lady to drive positive development and positive change throughout Guyana, especially within vulnerable communities. She is hopeful that the benefits of her projects would begin to manifest before the end of the year.