Women are reluctant to enter national politics
because they consider it too confrontational and dominated by
party structures, according to a recent national survey focussing
on 'Public Perceptions of Women in Politics.'
The survey covered women from the ten administrative regions and
noted that the vast majority of those polled are not keen on getting
involved in the local political arena due to the dominance of
the party structure.
The National Democratic Institute (NDI) sponsored the survey which
was undertaken by University of Guyana (UG) students, led by Assistant
Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, Roxanne Myers. The report
also said that more women would get involved in politics if they
had the financial resources to do so, if they didn't have family
responsibilities and if the way local politics plays out could
Giving a summary of the report, which is expected to engage the
attention of delegates at an upcoming women's conference starting
on May 27 at Le Meridien Pegasus Hotel, Myers said that respondents
lamented the fact that many women members of parliament did not
promote women's agendas, but acted on instructions from the party
According to Myers, out of the women polled there was broad consensus
that they were knowledgeable on existing constitutional provisions
affecting them but still saw the need for stronger legislation
to better reflect their views.
The survey found overall that women were more focused on local
government issues especially in relation to their communities
rather than national ones which they viewed as argumentative and
In election campaigns, the study showed that women were more likely
to be involved in fund raising activities as family and work-related
responsibilities left little time for much else.
With respect to the media, one-third of the respondents felt that
this sector never showed positive images of women with a similar
number noting that women experts were never consulted. Although
finding that television was the most favoured form of media, the
survey determined that a statistically insignificant number found
talk shows to be a source of information about women's issues.
A significant majority of the respondents, according to Myers,
professed to have some organisational development experience although
less than one-fifth reported having any advocacy training.
Advocacy was equated by most women polled with demonstrations
and protests which they viewed negatively, although those involved
in this type of advocacy saw them being associated with issues
such as domestic violence, women's rights, health care, HIV/AIDS
and education. The poll showed that word of mouth was the principal
method of publicising issues with which they are associated. The
survey also recorded the level of participation of women in public
meetings such as the recent constitutional reform and the poverty
reduction strategy and statutory council meetings, which indicators
show were very low.
According to the indicators this low participation was attributed
in most cases to disinterest, with a significant number indicating
that they were unaware of when the meetings were being held.
However, even if they did attend the meeting
almost 60% indicated that they never or rarely participated in
The two-stage, random, stratified selection process adopted by
the team, selected respondents by sex and age and was representative
of ethnic and political realities locally. The process of collecting
and analysing the data was carried out over a five-month period.
Meanwhile the conference, under the theme "Fifty/Fifty-Increasing
Women's Political Participation in the Caribbean" is scheduled
to run from May 27 to May 30 and will see 130 delegates from the
10-administrative regions and the 13 Caribbean Community territories.
The keynote address will be delivered by Annie Campbell who is
a founding member of the Northern Ireland Women's Coalition and
she will be in the country for a week during which time she will
meet with political leaders and women's groups.