AREAS OF FOCUS
Red Thread’s work takes place in a context of deep economic insecurity. There is a lot of movement in and outside the country as financial uncertainty, lack of access to housing, decent work, etc., mean that people are regularly on the move in search of livelihoods. One of our key objectives is to work for women’s unwaged and low-waged caring work to be re-valued and properly remunerated and for equal pay for work of equal value. Some of our interventions have been informed by such instruments as household budgets, time-use diaries and cost of living surveys to make visible the unequal burden of work; underline the difficult conditions facing grassroots people; offer a way for us to see how our struggles are connected; and become a basis for coming together to demand our rights.
It is becoming more evident that there is an epidemic of domestic violence across the region. Red Thread’s anti-violence work takes place in the context of deeply embedded ideas and practices that reinforce the inferior position of women, girls and trans persons in Guyana. Laws and policies that Red Thread has participated in shaping or popularising (like our work in creating a household guide to the Domestic Violence Act, and our participation in the discussions leading up to the Sexual Offences Act) have proven to be extremely difficult to enforce, particularly for grassroots survivors. This challenge necessitates our ongoing advocacy in the courts and police stations. Working with women in communities who can become resource persons on these issues, we emphasise the challenges of changing traditions and practices, strategise together over how to address them in advocating with survivors. Red Thread’s anti-violence work demonstrates the connections between domestic violence, sexual and reproductive health, and other issues facing grassroots women like decent housing and a living income.
It is especially true for grassroots women in Guyana that poverty, violence and a lack of political voice interact to ensure that the achievement of women’s de jure equality with men does not translate into anything near de facto equality, thus access to resources, safety and political power are their three most critical needs. The self-organization of grassroots women across race informs all of our work, and most of us are grassroots women ourselves, whose experiences are similar to the communities we work with. The collective knowledge generated from our work with other women on issues like cost of living; defending the rights of domestic workers, security guards and other low wage workers; domestic and sexual violence; and reproductive rights and health, provides opportunities for grassroots women to come together across different communities, and to understand the power we have so that we can refuse to put up with abusive and exploitative situations in the home, waged workplace, community or wider society.
University of the West Indies Rights Advocacy Project (U-RAP): Strengthening Accountability
Red Thread is currently collaborating with the Faculty of Law, University of the West Indies Rights Advocacy Project (U-RAP) to increase police and magistrate accountability for dealing with intimate partner violence perpetrated against women. The project aims to generate precedents, standards, and guides that clarify the duties of state authorities (magistrates and police) in respect of IPV against women and consequences of failure to meet the duties, and serve as the basis of a resource for civil society to demand state accountability.
Take a look at the posters and articles below to see some of the outreach initiatives of this project:
Equality Fund Project
Red Thread is a grantee partner of the Women’s Voice and Leadership (WVL) Program hosted through the Equality fund.
“In June 2017, the Government of Canada launched the Women’s Voice and Leadership (WVL) Program—as part of its Feminist International Assistance Policy—to provide women’s rights organizations and movements in developing countries with direct funding to advance gender equality. 21 organizations are implementing 32 projects in 30 different developing countries and/or regions under the WVL Program. These projects respond to the needs of women’s rights organizations and put women at the centre of decision-making.”- Women’s Voice and Leadership
Urbanization, Gender and the Global South: A Transformative Knowledge Network (GenUrb)
Situated within the dynamic early 21st century context of urbanization, this partnership conducts comparative research and engages in public education and global policy initiatives, particularly in relation to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which will address women’s needs through SDG 5 (‘Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls’), and first ever global urban goal, SDG 11 (‘Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable’). These activities are taking place within and across eight cities–Cairo, Cochabamba, Delhi, Georgetown (Guyana), Ibadan, Mumbai, Ramallah, and Shanghai–chosen for their differing regional locations, sizes and experiences of urbanization and migration.
The specific objectives of the partnership include conducting and disseminating research over a six-year period that engages with (a) policymakers on the application of SDG 5 and 11; and (b) grassroots urban women to explore how gendered inequality in their everyday lives is experienced through the economic, social and environmental dimensions of insecurity via the practices these women employ to work towards equality and inclusion in their urban worlds, including their engagement in urban place-making.
The Georgetown City Research Team is run by Linda Peake (the GenUrb PI) and Red Thread, working with Susan Collymore, Karen de Souza, Halima Khan, Nichola Marcus, Vanessa Ross, and Wintress White. Since 2017, they have been working in the neighbourhood of Sophia in the capital city of Georgetown.
Sophia is a sprawling housing scheme which until the mid-1980s was abandoned rice and cane sugar farming land. Located on what was then the outskirts of Georgetown, the first wave of squatters cleared the land of bush and wildlife to build their homes. The regularization of the area began in 1992 with surveys, lot allocations and some basic infrastructural installations. Over time governments have added roads, electricity, and basic services including schools and a health care centre. Sophia now has an estimated population of 50,000 persons, and although there has been significant upgrading of some dwellings, there is still a significant number of female-headed families, the majority of whom live on very low incomes. The national poverty levels and scarcity of housing land close to the capital has meant that people with no land are still attracted to Sophia, and there are hundreds of squatters in the community.
Red Thread’s work has involved approximately 30 women residents, engaging in ethnographic research coupled with life histories and ongoing in-depth interviews. Although Covid-19 has negatively impacted on the ability to engage in face to face contact on a regular basis, digital research and limited face to face contact has continued. In addition, the Team has interviewed approximately 12 policy shapers in relation to urban policy in Guyana and the country’s engagement with the SDGs.
In late 2019 and early 2020 Red Thread produced, alongside the women from Sophia, a number of radio programs (for Kaieteur News Radio 99.5FM and News-Talk Radio Guyana 102.1FM) related to findings from their data: the high cost of ‘free’ education; economic violence: the cost of living and surviving; and various programs focused on domestic violence.
In mid 2021, as well as providing direct financial support to the women in Sophia, the Georgetown City Research Team started research on the impact of Covid on their lives.
For further details see: GenUrb
Moving Forward Better: A Speakout on the current situation in Guyana (September 11, 2020) [VIDEO]
“The speak out, Moving Forward Better, was meant to bring Guyanese together to reflect on what living together means and requires, the need to listen, hear and empathise with each other. To disagree without insult and slander, viciousness and bitterness. To care for each other and to demonstrate that in our words and actions. And to emphasise that silence is not an option.” – Stabroek