Monday, April 27, 2015

Equatorial Guinea’s Minister Of Social Affairs And Gender Equality Discusses Ministry’s Initiative To Build Social Assistance Centers

The Government of Equatorial Guinea has designed a project to fund social development in order to better assist the country’s elderly population.

Mari Carmen Ecoro, Minister of Social Affairs and Gender Equality, discussed in a recent interview the Ministry’s initiative to build social assistance centers. “We have invited companies to provide designs as terms of reference on how to build a social center. A social center must have programs that meet the needs of society.”

Minister Ecoro said the project will place an emphasis on the elderly. “Often times we keep them at home due to our culture, and they do not go out or have activities. A social center can serve as a morning services center, where they are picked up in a bus and go to the center to learn art, dance, celebrate their birthdays, or reconnect with others they may not have seen in years.

She continued to say that if the elderly attending the social centers do not have access to medical services, they may receive medical attention there. “They will find doctors, dentists, opticians, etc., that can provide these free services. It would be a way to make their lives dignified.”

When talking about the children and youth, she said, “There are many who have no recreation. ... After school they can go to these centers to learn something new or study with mentors who can help them with homework. They can also have food without being asked about their economic status.”

A woman with low income can also go to these centers and receive social assistance. Minister Ecoro said, “The center will help her help herself. These centers are very important for this ministry and the people of Equatorial Guinea to serve as the first place one goes when one seeks information, help, support, etc.”

These projects have been redefined. The Ministry is about to present this project to the government to assess whether the conditions and the terms of reference are in line with the requirements set forth by the World Bank and the nation’s development plan, known as Horizon 2020. They hope to provide these centers in their all seven provinces.

During the interview, Minister Ecoro also discussed the country’s initiatives to create better conditions for the disabled. The Minister said the country’s First Lady, Constancia Mangue de Obiang, supports this sector. “She has built homes, has donated tricycles.” She talked about the social struggle the country experiences to integrate this vulnerable social group into society. “A senator who has a disability was recently appointed. It's similar to the trajectory of women. After ensuring that women are educated and prepared, the second priority is to give people with disabilities a better place in society. A lot has been done, but there is still much left to do. It is a minority that must be represented in all sectors.”