Gertie Wood (September 18, 1892–August 26, 1976) was a Guyanese social worker, music teacher, a pioneer women’s rights activist and the first female political candidate in the British West Indies. As a social worker, Wood made an invaluable impact on social work in then British Guiana during the 1930s and 1940s, articulating the plight of women and children in the former British colony. Her activism and amplification of the need for social welfare workers and programmes to the Royal West Indian Commission in 1939 is believed to have inspired the establishment of the British Guiana League of Social Services. The development created a model for national and transnational collaborative work. She became known for the Circle of Sunshine Workers, the Second Inter-Colonial Conference of Women Social Workers, and Wood was honoured for her self-sacrificing service as a recipient of the King’s Silver Jubilee Medal—an Order of the British Empire.
The Circle of Sunshine Workers, an organisation founded in 1931 and was located at 110 Regent Road, Bourda. The Sunshine Workers, with its motto “Feed my lambs, feed my sheep” was the main medium through which Wood stamped her presence in Guyana’s social and political life. The Circle of Sunshine Workers functioned both as a charitable organisation and a de facto trade union. Wood was also responsible for a free breakfast programme for schoolchildren in Georgetown. The programme had measurable success and the Daily Chronicle recorded a “stirring appeal made by the workers of the worthy and appreciable movement, through which 23,985 free meals were distributed to children in the year 1936.” The breakfast programme was complemented by other active schemes to assist the women and girls of Georgetown to earn a livelihood inclusive of needlework and free tuition on sewing machines. One weekly publication described Gertie Wood as “the energetic Social worker of this city,” lauding the work done by Wood’s Circle of Sunshine Workers including the “introduction of the 4H Club, and the maintenance of the Sunday School which forms a training ground for good and useful citizens.”
In November 1933 Wood ran for the snap municipal by-election for the Board Ward seat of the Georgetown Town Council, rendered vacant after the resignation of Alfred Victor Crane, a legal luminary at the time who stepped down to take up the position of Senior Magistrate. Ultimately Wood was unsuccessful but the press was voluble on her character and capability. The Daily Chronicle observed that Wood as an African-Guianese woman had “made history for her race and this country in being the first woman to enter the political arena as a principal.” Three days later, as Wood began her campaign in earnest, the paper was even more glowing in its recommendation. Attesting that Wood was not new to public life, it praised her for being the “only candidate to come out with a clear and definite programme.” Wood’s programme included a revision of taxation, rigid municipal control of the city’s milk supply, addressing foreclosures on mortgages and general concern for “starvation”.
Title: Attorney at Law and Director of Public Prosecutions for Guyana
Biography: Mrs. Shalimar Ali-Hack has been an Attorney at Law for the past 25 years. Her entire practice has been in criminal law. She joined the Chambers of the Director of Public Prosecutions in October 1990, as a State Counsel, immediately after graduating from the Hugh Wooding Law School. She continued to work at the Chambers and was promoted to Senior State Counsel then Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions and Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions. With effect from 1st January 2005, she was appointed as the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Throughout her professional career as a State Lawyer, she has dealt with thousands of files. The articulate DPP’s accomplishments did not end at the numerous cases presented before the High Court as State Counsel. She also appeared in several summary matters in the Magistrates’ Court and they were primarily narcotics trials and preliminary inquiries for serious offenses such as Fraud and Murder.
She is the first lawyer to present a narcotics case that was tried before both Judge and Jury in Guyana and in that case the accused was convicted. This case was before the then Chief Justice Cecil Kennard and the appeal was dismissed by our Court of Appeal. Mrs. Ali-Hack was also the first DPP to institute a case under the Money Laundering (Prevention) Act no.1 of 2000. The DPP has also represented the state in several murder cases in the Appeal Court. Fraud cases can also be added to her slate as she made the state proud in several cases where the accused persons were lawyers. Mrs. Ali-Hack currently appears in the Appellate Courts.
Mrs. Shalimar Ali-Hack is the first female to be sworn in as the Director of Public prosecution. This augurs well for female lawyers at the bar.
As the DPP, her duties do not include just legal work but also include management of the office as well as of the budget; hence, as a DPP she does not only have to be legally capable but also be able to manage persons and the accounts.
Over the course of the years, Mrs. Ali-Hack has written several papers and made presentations at several fora. Some of them are the paper “Working with vulnerable witnesses” presented at the Magistrates Conference on “The Domestic Violence Act-Implementation” on May 17, 2003. She has presented written papers on the “Validity of Committals Part 1” at the Police Prosecutors Sessions in March 2005 and the “Validity of Committals Part II” at the Police Prosecutors Sessions in August 2005. Mrs. Ali-Hack also presented a written paper on “Violence Perpetrated Against Women and Children” at the National Consultation Forum on Stamp It Out held by the Minister of Human Services and Social Security in observance of International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women held at the Convention Centre, Liliendaal in March 2008. She presented a written paper on “The New Sexual Offences Act” with senior police officers of the Guyana Police Force on August 7, 2010. Mrs. Ali-Hack presented a written paper to the NCLO in 2013 on “The role of the DPP in the Criminal Justice System”. She presented a written paper on “The Prevention and Fight Against Terrorism and its Financing” in 2012 at a United States-sponsored Anti-Terrorism Conference at the Grand Coastal Hotel. Mrs. Ali-Hack did a written paper on “Preventing Intimate Partner Homicide: Combining Criminal Justice, Medical and Contextual Data” in 2013 at the Convention Centre sponsored by the Ministry of Home Affairs. She also did a written paper to discuss the Confiscation of the Proceeds of Crime in 2013. Mrs. Ali-Hack did a written paper on “The Prosecution Strategy and the Guyanese Legal Framework for Proceeds of Crime Recovery” in November 2014 at a training for Proceeds of Crime hosted by the British High Commission and facilitated by the CCARP Office in Barbados.
In addition to the aforementioned Mrs. Ali-Hack made a presentation and was a panelist at the University of Guyana panel discussion sponsored by the Embassy of the United States of America.
Mrs. Ali-Hack is the Contact Person for Guyana on Criminal Law Issues on the Commonwealth Network of Contact Persons for Criminal Law Issues.
She is an independent member of the National Commission for Women; and formerly was a member of the Women and Gender Equality Commission.
Mrs. Ali-Hack was the Head of NACOSA (National Committee for Sisters Affairs-the Women’s Arm of the Central Islamic Organisation of Guyana) for the period March 1991 to January 2006.
Another one of her firsts is, she is deemed to be the first Muslim Attorney-at-Law in Guyana to dress Islamically since 1995 after her return from the Hajj. She considers religious freedom and peaceful coexistence between all religious groups in our country to be a great national achievement, of which all Guyanese must be proud and strive to maintain and protect. An example of this is her parents, her mother was born into a catholic family and her father was born into a Muslim family.
Renata Chuck-A-Sang is the incoming Executive Director of the Guyana Responsible Parenthood Association (GRPH). She is a management consultant and a retired restaurateur.
She is a graduate of the Arthur Lok Jack Graduate School of Business at the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine where she earned a Master’s in Business Administration with an emphasis on Entrepreneurship and Corporate Turnaround. She is also a graduate of the entrepreneurship training program by UNCTAD known as EMPRETEC. She is an alumnus of the Women in Public Service Project Institute (WPSP). The Institute seeks to prepare and encourage women across the globe to take up positions in public office. WPSP is an initiative of former US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton. Renata also graduated from the Global Women in Management Programme (GWIM) administered by Plan International in 2017. GWIM Workshops seek to equip women in the nonprofit sector or civil society with leadership, technical and professional skills that help them strengthen organizations and impact their communities
Renata is a past President of the Tourism and Hospitality Association of Guyana. She has served on the board of several state entities as well as NGOs. Currently, she represents the Private Sector as a Commissioner on the Women and Gender Equality Commission. She is an active Rotarian and a Past President of her club.
Indra, as she is popularly known, was born to a family of sugar workers in Enmore Estate. She comes from a large well-knit family of 6 girls and 4 boys. She grew up in an exciting period when change was the order of the day. Her mentor was her father who was a multifaceted and talented person who believed in equality, civic and community service which he instilled in his children. Indra got interested in politics at an early age. She cut school to join the sugar workers’ strike in 1962 when she was only 11 years old and got tear-gassed in the process. She attended Enmore Primary School and later Hindu College at Cove and John. She pursued commercial education in Guyana and furthered her education overseas in Political Science, Communication, and Journalism. She joined the Progressive Youth Organization (PYO) in 1968 which was not usual for girls in her community. In 1970 she joined the Women’s Progressive Organization (WPO) and People’s Progressive Party during which time she rose to many prominent, and leadership positions in all three organizations. Her defiance against injustice saw herself and three other sisters getting jailed for one week for standing up to bullying and intimidation. She works tirelessly to promote and support the status of women and their empowerment at the community and national levels; and has served with distinction as the leader of the WPO. Indra is recognized at home and abroad as an excellent organizer and enabling leader – a sampler of the posts she held include, Member of Parliament 1992-2016; Minister within the Ministry of Labour, Human Services, Social Security Housing & Water 1992-1997; Minister of Human Services & Social Security 1997-2001. UG Council Member for 10 years; President of the Inter American Commission on Women 2000-2002; Presidential Adviser on Gender Affairs 2006-201i and Government Chief Whip 2006-2011. Ms. Chandarpal currently serves as the inaugural Chairperson of the Women and Gender Equality Commission. She has also served on a number of National Boards and Committees. At the personal level, she is the proud mother of 2 children and was the wife & best friend of the late Navin Chandarpal for 35 years. Indra’s philosophy: “You can be whatever you want to be – just go after it!”
President of the Amerindian Action Movement of Guyana (TAAMOG) and serves as that organization’s representative on the Women and Gender Equality Commission. Professionally, Mr. Peter Persaud is an Indigenous Peoples Rights Expert, trained by the International Training Centre of Indigenous Peoples (ITCIP) based in NUUK, Greenland. Peter Persaud is also a Projects Officer trained by the Centre of International Development and Training (CIDT), University of Wolverhampton, UK. Mr. Persaud attended the Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa Primary Schools and the Muslims Educational Trust College where he received his primary and secondary education. He has a certificate in Supervisory Management from the University of Guyana. Mr. Persaud currently lives in Georgetown, Guyana but spends most of his time in Guyana’s Hinterland as a result of his activism.