U.N. Resident Coordinator, and Director of Youth spoke of national importance to foster peace and development
The Guyana Equality Forum (GEF) last commemorated International Day of Peace with their second annual “Peace Day Sunday Fun Day” in which five teams from various civil society and youth groups competed in eighteen activities, including novelty games and sports.
International Day of Peace was celebrated under the theme “The Sustainable Development Goals: Building Blocks for Peace” which supports the GEF's mandate of human rights and equality for all Guyanese since gender equality, quality education, good health, reduced inequalities, peace and justice are all sustainable development goals (SDGs).
Peace and Equality
Speaking at the Opening Ceremony of the event, the new United Nations Resident Coordinator for Guyana, Ms. Mikiko Tanaka expressed that peace is created in synergy with all the SDGs. Numerous studies, she said, have pointed out that poverty, hunger, unemployment, competition over natural resources such as land and water are factors that contribute to conflict. “Education and wellbeing, including living in balance with our natural environment and mitigating risks from disasters, are important drivers to sustainable development and peace.” Speaking of equality, she said that “peace can only be appreciated if we are all equal, despite our gender, race, sexual orientation, spoken language, religion or which part of the country we are from.”
The local UN Coordinator noted that the 50th anniversary of the Guyana’s independence offers an opportunity to reflect on the progress and remaining tasks towards achieving the vision of the “Land of Six Peoples, United and Free.”
“The work of the Guyana Equality Forum and its members is extremely important in this regard,” she said. “The GEF was formed as a collaborative response by local civil society to addressing human rights abuses against sexual and gender minorities and other vulnerable and marginalized groups in Guyana.”
“The SDGs are building blocks for peace. Peace is not just about putting weapons aside. It is about building societies where people share the benefits of prosperity on a healthy planet. Peace is not an accident. Peace is not a gift. Peace is something we must all work for, ever day in ever country. These goals are essential for lasting peace and both depend on human rights,” the UN official concluded.
The GEF’s “Peace Day Fun Day” sought to promote positive health and well-being, encourage youth participation, civic engagement and the advancement of human rights and equality. The Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) won the games, while Duquan Cumberbatch of the Guyana Trans United (GTU) copped the award for most outstanding athlete; Come Alive Network Inc. (CANI) won the Dance Pass.
Sports for Peace and Unity
Giving the Closing Remarks, Director of Youth, Melissa Carmichael, on behalf of the Minister within the Ministry of Education, Hon. Nicolette Henry, M.P., highlighted that it is a clever choice to hold a day of sports to commemorate and celebrate peace because sports is an activity that draws people from all walks of life. “Sports unites people. It does not discriminate against gender, ethnicity, religion or status – people of all ethnic groups, genders and ages come together as one,” she said. She expressed “Guyana does not belong to any particular ethic group or combination of groups. It is important that all Guyanese observe and respect human rights and uphold our motto of “One People, One Nation, One Destiny,” she added, expressing hope that the activity fosters bonds and social cohesion that will help to make Guyana a country of peace and stability.
“Good relations, peaceful co-existence and cohesion among communities are a key ingredient for sustainable development and growth,” Carmichael stated. “No country in the world can develop if it does not build on peace; if it does not experience peace. Peace therefore can be seen as one of the pillars on which nations prosper economically, socially and politically.”
She concluded by giving a charge to the athletes to appreciate diversity, have respect for each other’s culture, religion and beliefs, and nurture harmony and peaceful coexistence between persons of different genders, ethnicities, religions and social classes.
The GEF’s 2016 Peace Day Fun Day was supported by the High Commission of Canada to Guyana, Sentinel Security Inc. and the Guyana Girls Guide Association.