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N Touch
Friday 25 May 2018
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More please

Let's have more of what we saw in Parliament on Friday: more women in leadership and more collaboration across the floor.

We all benefit from the election of Paula Mae Weekes to the presidency.

Having a woman lead the armed forces sends a strong message to girls and young women everywhere.

We look forward to Weekes’ tenure which has already made history even before it has begun.

Trinidad and Tobago will finally be able to say it has had a woman president, prime minister, opposition leader, speaker, and senate president. But the advent of a woman president does not mean things will be hunky-dory from now on.

In fact, the fact that it remains remarkable to us that we are installing women leaders is a sign of how much work needs to be done. Members of civil society must redouble efforts to bring about equality: through lobbying, engagement and tenacious advocacy.

The Carnival season which is upon us has already provided much to reflect on.

One the one hand, it is often said that “Carnival is woman”.

Women determine the parameters of the festival: driving the parade of the bands, accounting for a large portion of gate receipts at fetes and contributing significantly to our music.

The message sent is that a woman is free and is entitled to express and enjoy herself just as much as men do. Female sexuality, which our society normally castigates, is venerated for a change.

However, at Carnival we also see the uglier realities which women face. Women are subject to untold horrors ranging from sexual harassment in the street to vile attacks, some of which have resulted in death. To add insult to injury, victim shaming is rampant.

Things are changing though. The resignation of Port of Spain Mayor Tim Kee in 2016 was a sign of how attitudes have shifted.

Even the recent debate on the question of consent when we “take a little wine” indicates our society is realising it must question some of our old, outdated assumptions.

We also hope to see more of the collaborative approach adopted by Government and Opposition officials in relation to the presidency. This was particularly heartening in the wake of the failure to pass anti-gang legislation last year due to the UNC’s objections.

The Government cannot let this latest olive branch which has been extended slip its grasp. It must seize the opportunity to build on the non-partisan momentum to press ahead with its legislative agenda, including overdue anti-terrorism legislation.


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