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ExxonMobil empowering Guyanese women through global training programme

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Several Guyanese women who have participated in the Global Women in Management (GWIM) training programme, funded by the ExxonMobil Foundation, have taken the lessons learned back into their communities across the new oil producing South American country.

ExxonMobil Guyana said in an activity update on Friday that seven women have participated in the programme since 2013 and an eighth is set to join online later this year.

The company said GWIM is designed to strengthen women’s management, leadership, and technical skills to enhance and bring-to-scale, programmes that advance women’s economic opportunities and build the next generation of women business leaders and entrepreneurs. The candidates must be working in a local organization focused on women’s economic empowerment.

Some of the Guyanese participants such as Vilma Da Silva from the Lower Pomeroon in Region Two are determined to inspire younger women ensuring that they secure better lives. “Quite often, women are the vulnerable ones who feel less fortunate and depend on male partners for a better life. I am inspiring young women to develop themselves before they think about going into early marriage and childbearing,” she shared.

Da Silva who is an RDC Councillor and social worker believes that this approach will contribute to the overall goal of alleviating poverty. In her private capacity, she owns a coconut farm (Henvil Farm) which supplies companies such as Sterling Products Limited and employs up to 24 persons.

She is one of three women based in rural communities who have benefitted from this training. The others being Yvonne Pearson, Vice Chair of the Indigenous Peoples’ Commission as well Rowena Williams, a teacher and the chairperson of the Silver Sands Sports Club in Waramuri, Region One.

Meanwhile, Sociologist and Founder of Specialists in Sustained Youth Development and Research (SSYDR Inc.), Magda Griffith-Wills, has managed to use the experience to augment the work of her Non-Governmental Organisation. She recalled a programme called “Farming for Hunger” which inspired her next big project that aims to rehabilitate young offenders; ensuring they are steered from criminal activity.

“We are in the process of acquiring the land necessary to have that rehabilitative programme geared to persons within the justice system; young persons, it doesn’t matter the crime. We want to be able to help persons to get to that point where they could see and want change, then effect that change through agriculture,” Griffith-Wills explained.

According to the activity update, ExxonMobil Foundation has supported the Global Women in Management training for 15 years to focus on providing management training and building local capacity to support women’s economic advancement.  More than 900 women in 77 countries have participated since the programme commenced in 2005.

To improve the design and management of participants’ programs, businesses, and institutions, GWIM develops competencies in project management, financial management, leadership, fundraising, institutional sustainability and advocacy. Technical training in areas such as business planning, marketing and product development strengthens participants’ ability to design and implement women’s economic empowerment programs in their communities.

Sonja Sampson

“I feel honoured and excited to be able to represent the women of Guyana,” said Sonja Sampson, who is set to begin training in October. “I have been working with women and youth for quite some time and this opportunity will help me to gain more skills and knowledge in leadership and management.”

Sonja is a coach and trainer with SSYDR Inc. and will be participating online, owing to COVID-19 travel restrictions.

Meanwhile, Senior Director for Public and Government Affairs, Deedra Moe, said this is one of several ways that ExxonMobil Guyana demonstrates its commitment to the advancement of women in Guyana. According to her, the company has identified women empowerment as one of its focus areas as part of its overall commitment to social and economic progress in Guyana. “We continue to partner with several NGOs; a few are run by GWIM participants, to implement various projects geared at improving the lives of women and empowering the communities where they live,” she added.

These include most recently, a project by the Blue Flame Women’s Group to upgrade an existing factory which produces cocoa sticks, coffee and cassava bread in Region 1 and another by WeLead Caribbean for skills development in the areas of human resources, business, branding and packaging in Regions 2 and 3. ExxonMobil has also partnered with Cerulean Inc. on a project to enhance the economic development of Mainstay/Whayaka through capacity building in the areas of Hospitality & Tourism and Small Business Development. 

Beyond its corporate social responsibility, there are nearly 400 Guyanese women supporting various activities on and offshore.  Women are employed in business services, procurement, safety, health and environment and technical services.

The company said other participants of the GWIM workshops are Renata Chuck-A-Sang of the Women and Gender Equality Commission and Goldie Scott, Chief Executive Officer of Volunteer Youth Corps Inc.

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