40 more hinterland women trained through First Lady’s scholarship programme

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana
First Lady Mrs Arya Ali (centre) flanked by the 40 graduates and government officials, members of the diplomatic corps, and representatives of the Atlantic Alliance Maritime and Offshore Training Institute (AAMOTI)

Forty women from Regions seven (Cuyuni- Mazaruni) and nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo) graduated on Friday evening from the Atlantic Maritime and Offshore Training Institute (AAMOTI) through a fully-funded scholarship programme between the institute and the Office of the First Lady.

The graduation took place during a simple ceremony at the Baridi Benab, State House.

The 40 women were the second batch of a total of 60 women who have since benefitted from the scholarship programme. A total of 100 women from the hinterland will receive training through the programme which was launched last year.

The 40 hinterland women spent the last week at the institute’s Friendship, EBD location undergoing the Basic Safety Training (BST) and Ship Security Awareness Training – both of which are accredited by the Guyana’s Maritime Administration Department (MARAD) and the Maritime Authority of Jamaica (MAJ).

Highlighting that the labor force participation rate for women is around 50 percent, compared to about 80 percent for men, First Lady Mrs Arya Ali stated that the programme aims to address the significant underrepresentation of women in the labour force; specifically in sectors like oil and gas, construction, shipping, and logistics.

She said too that the choice of these courses was intentional based on data in the Guyana Skilled Labour Assessment Study, which shows that over the next five years, Guyana’s oil and gas, construction, transportation and logistics, health, and agricultural sectors will require an additional 53,000 workers.

“The STCW and Ship Security Awareness Courses, both of which you have successfully completed, empower you to do just that – enter these male-dominated industries and increase the participation of women in areas historically dominated by men,” Mrs Ali told the 40 graduates.

She noted too that as Guyana becomes a more attractive place to live and work, competition in the labour market will naturally increase, with the addition of labour migrants from all over the world.

“But, holding these regionally-accredited certificates in two distinct areas of Health, Safety, Security and Environment (HSSE) places you ahead of the curve. You have a head start, and while it certainly is a cause for celebration, it is also a cause for action on your part. You must recognize and capitalize on this advantage ahead of those who will be scouting for opportunities in Guyana in the coming years,” she implored the women.

Managing Director of AAMOTI, Mrs Miranda Thakur-Deen expressed how privileged it was for the institution to partner with the Office of the First Lady to offer technical training to Guyanese women.

“The First Lady continues to lead the charge in providing access to opportunities for our women, and support their development at every level. So we are extremely delighted and privilege to have been able to work with her office on this amazing programme which supports the empowerment of women and girls in the hinterland,” Mrs Thakur-Deen said.

Meanwhile, Minister of Public Works Bishop Juan Edghill encouraged the graduates to see this milestone as just the beginning of what could be exciting and successful careers for them.

He was keen to note too that programmes like these are testament to the fact that the Government is making strides in bridging the gap between hinterland communities and the coast, to ensure that there is equitable access to opportunities and resources.

Speaking at the ceremony too was President of the Women in Maritime Association Caribbean (WiMAC)-Guyana chapter, Ms Thandi McAllister, who underscored the important role women play in the maritime and offshore sectors.

Also in attendance at the ceremony were: Ministers Joseph Hamilton, Sonia Parag, and Pauline Sukhai; British High Commissioner H.E. Jane Miller; Chinese Ambassador H.E. Mrs. Guo Haiyan; and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at the Guyana Office for Investment (GO-Invest) Dr. Peter Ramsaroop.