Georgetown, Guyana – (February 6, 2020) First Lady, Mrs. Sandra Granger, yesterday encouraged 25 girls and young women, who participated in a Comprehensive Empowerment Programme for Adolescent Mothers (CEPAM) which was organized by Women Across Differences (WAD), to be proud of themselves and their achievement.
Mrs. Granger, during a simple graduation exercise held at the Baridi Benab, State House, urged them to capitalise on every available educational opportunity as they are the future leaders of Guyana.
“I can say this without fear of contradiction that I am always thrilled when women, and in particular young women, seize the opportunities that are offered for their growth and development…You are the next leaders of our country and I would like to encourage you to seize every opportunity [that] you are offered to educate yourselves [and] to take your rightful place in society,” Mrs. Granger said.
The CEPAM programme aims to build the self-esteem and self-worth of teen mothers through education and empowerment. The First Lady noted that many of the graduates of the programme and members of WAD have moved on to become success stories.
She used the occasion to encourage the young women not to let challenges deter them from achieving their goals and to always have a bright and positive outlook towards their futures.
“The sky is the limit! So you see, you can do whatever you want. I urge you to look beyond the professional fields in which women have traditionally worked. You are living in the age of technology...you need to acquire the skills and training that are necessary for empl0yment not only in the oil and gas sector, but also in Agriculture, Communications, Computer Programming and Engineering, Food Processing, Hospitality etcetera. If you stumble and fall occasionally that’s alright. You can get up, dust yourself off and carry on, knowing you have the support of your WAD team,” she said.
CEPAM is an initiative organised by Women Across Differences (WAD) in partnership with Republic Bank (Guyana) Limited (RBL). During the year-long programme, participants are given psychosocial support, while being taught entrepreneurship skills, academics, family planning and other subject areas. The First Lady serves as patron of WAD.
Meanwhile, Coordinator of WAD, Mrs. Clonel Samuels-Boston, in her address, said adolescence pregnancy remains prevalent in society. In this regard, she said WAD is committed to collaborating with its partners such as the Office of the First Lady and RBL, to provide a second chance at success for teen mothers. Mrs. Samuels-Boston also noted that the feedback and impact of the programme has been overwhelming. Since its commencement in 2009, a total of 545 adolescent mothers have benefited. She urged the young women to stay focused and to utilize the knowledge they would have gained for their own self development.
“The future ahead looks promising, not only for the programme but also for the adolescence mothers… I challenge you to stay focused, keep the positives and discard the negatives… Remember that there are always solutions for everything,” she said.
Additionally, RBL’s Marketing and Communications Manager, Mrs. Jonelle Dumette, emphasized her bank’s commitment to continued partnership with WAD in pursuit of the empowerment of girls and young women. She noted that the initiative will ensure that the participants have access to social and economic resources and life skills.
“We, at Republic Bank, are firmly committed to the development and empowerment of women…Be assured that Republic Bank Guyana Limited will continue in support of this group even as we look at ways in which we can expand our support,” she said.
At the close of the ceremony, the First Lady viewed an exhibition of decorative items created by the teenage mothers that were displayed. The programme also included cultural programmes such as poems, dances and musical renditions from local reggae and soca artists, Mr. Mark Batson and Ms. Michelle ‘Big Red’ King.
Representatives of the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) Mr. Irfan Akhtar and Ms. Jewel Crosse; Secretary-General of the National Commission for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Ms. Patrice La Fleur, representatives of the Peace Corps, Ms. Yefi Oshodi and Ms. Lucy Cumberbatch and the Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Social Protection, Mr. Mohan Ramrattan also attended.